November 4, 2009

Wacky Comic Wednesday: Rust #5

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Written by: Andy
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With cover quotes like “Dark, (I mean dark) tale of… a giant walking scab,” and “Original,” and “Two thumbs up!” I wasn’t really expecting much when I began to read Rust #5, the featured book for this edition of Wacky Comic Wednesday. While it was far from groundbreaking in any aspect of the comics genre, it wasn’t horrible and was actually awkwardly enjoyable. Let us begin with a history lesson…

rust21Rust was published by NOW Comics in December 1987, the same company who owned the rights to Speed RacerThe Original Astro BoyReal GhostbustersThe Terminator, and even Married With Children (yes, this was a comic book). The company was founded in 1985 and lasted only 5 years as it was forced into bankruptcy in 1990. Like Jean Grey of the X-Men, NOW Comics has had a couple revivals; in 1991 it was relaunched as the NOW Entertainment Corporation after being bought by General Learning but it ceased publishing anything after 1994, and then again as NOW Comics 3.0 but its tenure was short. Surprisingly, NOW Comics does have a website, but not surprisingly it looks like it was designed by a high school student in 1999. Onto the comic…

The action begins on the movie set of Terror of the Scabmaster which is being filmed on location in Plinkton, Ohio. I know, this comic is terrifying already. It’s a creature feature and just when the actor playing the monster is about to sink his teeth into the busty damsel in distress, his latex mask slides off onto the blonde beauty sending the director into an uproar. As he’s reaming out the make-up guy (whose name is Randy Hathaway), our main character, Scott Baker (whom I believe Rust is named after) wanders onto the set. Scott was once a cop but now due to some accident (or maybe it wasn’t an accident, I’m not sure as it isn’t explained here) he looks like a monster- he’s tall, has a horribly burned face and body, and speaks in a rumbling deep voice. The director catches sight of him and immediately declares his love of Scott’s ‘make-up’ work, complimenting how natural it looks and how the texture is perfect for the leading monster role. So just like that Scott gets the part (if only it were that easy here in Los Angeles).

Scott isn’t alone though as he is accompanied by a slightly retarded little blonde girl named Cheryl who is probably around 5 years old or so. Apparently in the previous issue there was a fire in a toy factory which has resulted in Baker taking care of this little girl and his being chased by the authorities (I think… again this isn’t clearly stated). So Scott spends a dozen days filming this movie and he’s great at the part. Eventually he meets the films screenwriter, Steven Kingston (obviously a take on Steven King), who catches wise to Scott always being ‘in make-up’ and understands that there is more to he and Cheryl than meets the eye. He doesn’t pry though, stating that it isn’t his business and gives Scott a book about children’s psychology. It’s clear to Kingston that something’s up with Cheryl, so he advises him to take her to a children’s psychiatrist who is arguably the best in the practice. But when Scott states that he has no means to travel from Ohio to Minnesota, Kingston takes matters into his own hands…

The next day the movie director informs Scott that the ‘money people’ behind the production loved the footage shot so far that they green lit the filming of a sequel to Terror of the Scabmaster. This sequel is also written by Kingston and it just so happens that the locale of the film is set in Minnesota. Well played Mr. Kingston! Scott of course accepts as he needs the money, and just when things are looking up for the guy it all comes crashing down… sort of. Later that night a disgruntled Hathaway decides to sneak into Scott’s trailer to see what the secret is behind his ‘make-up’ that resulted in his getting fired. Hathaway cuts off a piece of the ‘mask’ from a sleeping Scott, when he gets a face full of green acid (which has apparently replaced Scott’s blood). Both men cry out in pain which causes a ruckus on set, waking everyone up. Hathaway makes a getaway in his car and Kingston gets Scott and Cheryl away from the commotion in his own vehicle.

The issue comes to a conclusion with Scott and Cheryl on the run again hopping box cars to Minnesota, fearful that Hathaway will reveal to the masses what he has discovered. However, the final page of the story jumps ahead one year to Hollywood where the previously unemployed make-up artist has made a name for himself. But when all the lights go out and the cameras turn off, Hathaway takes a knife to his face- or mask- as beneath lies his true visage; a disfigured, melted mess, making Scott’s gruesome features no longer unique…

And that’s the story. While I still don’t have a clear idea of what the plot is supposed to be, Rust #5 was an entertaining ad-free read (which is probably why the company tanked after half a decade of existence). As expected, there were plenty of moments that didn’t make much sense, like when Scott was looking through a book and his hands apparently burnt through the pages like some sort of acid… nothing else he ever touched seemed to be affected in that way. Or the whole side plot with Cheryl- what was that all about? There were also a few typos which is always a turn off; “But you and I both know that’s there’s something wrong with the little lady here,” and “Listen up Scott Cheryl seem comfortable around you.” Both are spoken by Kingston so maybe it’s his speech pattern, but I’d venture a guess that editor (and colorer) Cygnet Ash just got lazy.

So who were the masterminds behind this wacky piece of comic book literature? The writer is Fred Schiller who in 1995/1996 wrote issues #1, #2, #5, and #6 of Professor Xavier and the X-Men (with Star Wars Legacy’s Jan Duursema as the artist) but was replaced by writers Fabian Nicieza (X-ForceNightwingRobin) and Jorge Gonzalez (X-O Manowar). He was also the man behind the pen with Valiant’s Rai series in 1992, and NOW’s The Terminator in 1988. I’m not 100% sure that this isFred’s blog, but the content matter (which is highly comic related in nature) leads me to believe that it is indeed him. I actually own the first issue of Professor Xavier and the X-Men so be sure to stay tuned to Wacky Comic Wednesday as I plan on covering it in the near future. Tony Akins is Rust’s penciler/inker and he’s definitely moved onto bigger and better things with his career. His most notable work to date is penciling issues for writer Bill Willingham’s FablesJack of Fables, and House of Mystery which are all published by Vertigo. Being an avid Fables and Jack reader it’s apparent that his style has come a long way since Rust, and it’s cool to see an artist successfully mature and evolve in this business. Some of Akins’ other credits include Comico’s Elementals in 1989, the 1991 Elements Sex Special series, and Fathom in 1992, plus two issues of Mike Baron’s Nexus in 1985 and even an issue of G.I. Joe: America’s Elite published by Devil’s Due in 2005.

Now for some ridiculous quotes:

“Hey Cheryl! Are you watching the Flintstones? My favorite is Dino. Do you know why he was so mad all the time? ‘Cause he was a dinosore!” – Scott

“Hey kid, it’s time we talked. You know, about your mom, and Sherm, and the others. I know it’s my fault that they died, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’m sorry that we couldn’t stay for the funerals, either, but Kansas City wasn’t a very safe place, for you or me.” – Scott

So there you have it, a complete review of Rust #5. Be sure to tune in again to Wacky Comic Wednesday as we’ll be taking a look at more of Rust’s adventures in the future…

Andy Liegl



  1. Eli

    I like it. Cool name, cool disfigured guy taking on the responsibility of raising a child that he helped make an orphan… just awesome! And acid for blood, nice.

    I see these books sometimes and I wonder what those guys are doing now. It is very cool to know that Akins went on to have a nice career.

  2. Every body has to start somewhere Lol

  3. Billy

    “Terror of the Scabmaster” sounds disgusting.

  4. lol

  5. […] HC Not to be confused with the ’80s comic of the same name, Rust is published by Archaia and is an all-ages adventure with super cool art, set in the American […]

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