By Royden Lepp



There have been few things I have waited for as anxiously as I did the sequel to RUST.  Often times, when I build things up in my mind as much as I did this volume, I am crushingly disappointed.  The art might not be as good as I remembered, or the characters that so enthralled me before will suddenly be flat and wooden.  However, as Archaia so often does, the latest release blew my expectations out of the water and presented me with a book that is as brilliant as it is beautiful.

In the first volume, we are introduced to the Taylor family, who are struggling to keep their small farm alive following a gruesome and terrible war.  Suddenly, a small boy named Jet with a rocket strapped to his back appears bringing danger and a sea of questions with him.  While young Oswald sees Jet as a danger to what remains of his family, his older brother, Roman, sees Jet as the salvation of their farm and their peaceful lives.

SECRETS OF THE CELL picks up immediately after the last volume left off.  Roman and Jet have been successful in fixing up various parts of the farm and Roman is beginning to see a bright new future for all of them.  Oswald’s suspicion of Jet is hardened into outright fear when he sees an ailing Jet stick a fuel cell into his chest and suddenly become healed.  Oswald flees the farm in a hunt for answers about Jet’s mysterious past, bringing their farm to the attention of some very dangerous people.  Now, Oswald must decide whether Jet will be the Taylor family’s salvation or devastation.

The combination of Royden Lepp’s masterful storytelling and stunning artwork make RUST one of the best books on the shelves today.  The sepia-toned watercolors give a depth to the pages that is simultaneously soothingly nostalgic and chillingly alien.  The characters’ expressions are so realistic they capture your attention long after you have read the page.  When I read this volume I was perpetually torn between wanting to fly through the book to unravel the mystery of Jet and linger over some of the most beautiful artwork ever published in a graphic novel.

Normally, I would stress the need for people to read a book this fantastic.  However, when dealing with something so perfect as RUST, I feel that saying that would be grossly underselling it.  So, instead, I will simply tell you that in the last two weeks, I have read RUST: SECRETS OF THE CELL five times.  Trust me, it’s that good.

-Bryan VanMeter