Somewhere out on the prairie, a young man named Roman Taylor is working on something in a shed. He’s piecing together a robot, with pieces salvaged from a local wrecker, in the hopes that when it’s complete, it’ll be able to help him run the farm — particularly since it’s about time for his younger brother to head off to school.
Jet, a mysterious visitor who literally burst onto the scene about a week earlier, is an odd kid. He has a jetpack, like those used in the war nearly 50 years ago, and never takes off his goggles. Roman helped him out of a nasty scrape, and now he’s helping out around the farm — but he doesn’t like the idea of fixing up a robot for farm work. As far as he’s concerned, the only good robot is a dead robot: they were designed for war, and you simply can’t trust them, re-coded or not.
Intrigued? That’s the premise of Rust: Visitor in the Field, the first volume in a graphic novel series by Royden Lepp. I got a sneak peek at a PDF version of the book, which is nearly 200 pages long, and ended up reading the entire thing instead of going to bed last night. The images are done in a sepia tone, giving it an odd, timeless feel despite the jetpacks and robots. It’s not exactly what I’d call steampunk (these robots, after all, don’t seem to be running on steam) but the robots do look more like something that might fit on a rural farm than on a spaceship.
I really enjoyed the story, which starts with some visions of the war, 48 years ago, before cutting to the undefined present day. The story is narrated in part by Roman’s letter to his father, recounting Jet’s tumultuous arrival on their farm, and we get hints that there is something much bigger going on than a lost kid with a jetpack. Of course, a lot of that will have to wait for the next book, because the Visitor in the Field mostly just sets the stage — but if volume 1 is any indication, the rest of the story will be worth sticking around for.
Here are a couple sample pages for you after the jump; or you can visit Archaia’s website for a longer preview.