As we are brought back into the world of Rust, Lepp reveals more about Jet’s past and sheds some light on the internal struggle he’s facing along the way. Starting with a flashback that takes place during the war, we get to see the incident that is the catalyst for Jet’s defection from the military. It also shows why he has such a loathing for the cell that powers him, and why he chose to suffer through relying on the oil fueled ones instead. There’s also poor little Oz who is fully aware of Jet’s secret of being an artificial person, but he isn’t believed by anyone. Dismissed as a young child with a wild imagination, he slowly decides to take matters into his own hands. Lepp has also upped the intensity as the military has a lead on Jet’s location, and they are at a point now where collateral damage is acceptable if it results in retrieving Jet. This means danger for everyone at the farm, whom Jet now feels responsible for.
Lepp maintains one emotionally charged story as Roman is determined to protect everyone, but is too blind to see the danger that is all around in the form of the robots working on the farm, as he sees them as the only way to keep the farm going so his family doesn’t end up poor and hungry. He’s admirable to a fault, but Lepp also keeps him very relatable and an interesting enough character that you emphasize with him and his problems. Even his unrequited love for Jess is a bit uncomfortable to see, as Lepp seems to just keep tossing obstacles at the young man. There’s also the shift in the relationship between Oz and Jet, which has taken a turn ever since the reveal, but Lepp keeps it subtle, steadily building their silent conflict through his artwork instead of dialogue between the two. These are some very strong scenes as Oz is shown as withdrawn and focused, as he sees that since no one will believe him he must protect the family.
Lepp’s artwork continues to impress as he’s consistently bringing quality to each installment of Rust. He pulls the emotion needed from his characters, and it negates the use of dialogue in many of his panels. So when we get to see events unfold without it, the visuals are that much stronger. His designs for the robots are quite unsettling as the many gears, coils, and weathered look give off a very sinister feel. He’s also found a balance where his story is better off moved solely by the art and when it’s time for dialogue. The silence during the action scenes actually makes things more intense, as it does during the more character driven scenes. The various sepia tones throughout the book maintain a classic look for the story which adds a nice touch.
We’re left with a cliffhanger much larger than the last, so if you were under the assumption this was the final chapter it looks like there’s one more left. Rust Vol 3: Death of the Rocket Boy maintains its excellence through masterful storytelling and artwork that’s just as strong. Though this may not be the perfect place to start, you’ll do yourself a disservice by not checking out the world of Royden Lepp’s Rust. It’s got plenty of heart and sometimes that’s all you need.