Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rust: Secrets of the Cell, by Royden Lepp

As my readers may recall, I reviewed the first volume of Rust a long time ago way back in April of last year and at the end of my review I told my readers I'd be reviewing the second volume when it was due to come out in September of 2012. Well...funny story. You see, for whatever reason, the release of Rust: Secrets of the Cell got initially pushed back until October, and then got pushed to January of 2013. I was actually a little worried that the book would never get released at all! Fortunately the January release date remained the "true" release date and I received my copy of the second volume to much rejoicing.

Overall, I liked this new volume because it explained a lot of things happening within the series's universe and established what a "cell" is and why it's important. (Short version, it's a power source for the various mechs that inhabit Rust's universe which is a closely-guarded secret. Only the highest of military brass and scientists know how they work.) Furthermore we get more of Jet Jones's backstory and his character motivations which I enjoyed because it made him more than just "some guy." 

In addition, this volume has some more awesome jetpack action which, to be honest, is kind of what sold me on this series in the first place. Despite the relative lack of dialog, except in fairly large exposition chunks, I thought the story was fairly well-told with an economy of art style with no panel wasted. Furthermore I felt that this issue answered enough questions about the story to make the plot move along at a decent pace while keeping plenty of deeper mystery for a good plot burner like A Song of Ice and Fire. We even got some more information about the war which serves as a lot of the backstory for this setting, although I hope we get more information in newer volumes. 

Despite the things that I liked about this book, there were a couple of problems I still had with the series. In the first case I am still not really sure about the timeline of this series still. As I mentioned in my first review, the war apparently occurs forty-eight years before the main events of the series but is still going at least thirty-ish years later, and possibly still is. This is confusing because it's implied that the country the main characters live in won the war, but Mr. Taylor, the father of Roman and Oswald, is still away at the front. If the war's still going on I quite frankly have a hard time believing that it's been going for fifty-odd years in an industrialized war. Even with World War I Germany was ready to collapse in 1918, without American involvement. If a second war broke out after the first one mentioned, then I might find it more plausible, but no one mentions that in the story and I am given the impression that they're at peace so, as I mentioned, confusing. I really wish I could just get a straightforward answer regarding the timeline of this series.

The other main issue I had was the direction that this plot seems to be taking. Jet Jones, as I probably mentioned, is a warmachine from the original war forty-eight years ago. This book opens with Jet escaping from a research facility where he was created and he is very against being a tool just for killing so he runs away. While this is a common plot for artificially created people and has been in science fiction for forever, I feel like it's covering ground which has been extensively covered and isn't bringing anything new to the plotline. In addition Oswald, Roman's kid brother, finds out that Jet is a machine and instantly hates him. Granted, Oswald disliked Jet before he found out, but it's a very typical hating artificial people because they're artificial storyline. I kind of expect that Oswald's opinion will be changed by some sort of event in the future, and I'm left wishing Lepp had been a little more creative with his storyline.

Despite my issues with this book, I am still looking forward to the next volume. (However, I have no idea when that will be.) I will admit that I'm hoping the next issue will really get this series off the ground because while I've been enjoying it, I'm still kind of waiting for it to go forward. If this next volume doesn't really go anywhere I'm afraid I may have to drop the series. 

- Kalpar 

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