“RUST takes place in an alternate world where a great, long war was fought using humans and robots. Roman Taylor is the adult son of a soldier who never came back from the war. Roman is struggling to keep his father’s farm running and keep the family together when, one day, a kid with a jet pack crashes in his field.” – Royden Lepp, creator of RUST
The upcoming release of RUST: Soul in the Machine, the fourth volume in the series, is the final chapter culminating “10+ years of late nights and deadlines,” according to Lepp. After a dedicated run, Lepp – who serves as writer and illustrator – delivers a heartfelt tale of longing for and connecting with family. The first three chapters give readers a story in which they will want to continue exploring Roman’s family and the flying kid, Jet Jones. Roman tries to maintain the family farm, working tirelessly to repair and use robots to take the bulk of the workload. Jet fills the void left from Roman’s efforts on the machines, trying to prove his worth, so he can be asked to stay and have a place to call home.
Jet’s introduction to Roman involves a massive battle with a gigantic robot, and this struggle only identifies the ominous threat lingering on the edge of each page thereafter. Jet’s unyielding perseverance against robots seeking to destroy him is courageous and with purpose – to help the Taylor family. Roman’s own sense of determination to find answers for his life comes in the form of letters to his lost father. There’s a sense of honesty trapped within these letters, displaying the private, heartbreaking struggles of a person trying to cope with taking care of his family.
Soul in the Machine is a gripping conclusion to a story that captures its audience’s attention with compelling action sequences and personal moments of those attempting to deal with loss. Jet, in particular, is small in stature, making his ability to fight bolder than anything that seems possible. He doesn’t give up, despite potential harm to himself, and all of it serves the honorable purpose of protecting the Taylors and their neighbors. In a recent interview with Lepp, he described Jet as “a strong character, but his strength doesn’t look strong until you see his weakness.” Battling beyond limitations – isn’t that what makes a hero?
Lepp does a fantastic job of giving just enough background on his characters, only scratching the surface of what could be plenty of future storylines, yet allowing the reader to build an emotional bond that drives readers on to the next page and the next chapter. Jet, Roman, and several other characters are hardwired with determination that doesn’t break – even though there are (metaphorical) cracks for us to see. Soul in the Machine is a battle for survival, as Jet and the Taylor family find themselves and their farm surrounded by machines. The ensuing struggle gives readers a thrilling final chapter where Jet’s willpower seems neverending, leading others to stand tall and ultimately proving that heroism comes in all sizes.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of RUST, you can find the first three chapters in multiple formats.
RUST: Soul in the Machine will be available on Wednesday, February 21, also marking “the first time the publisher has released both hardcover and softcover editions simultaneously in comic shops and bookstores” (BOOM! Studios).
Creative Team: Royden Lepp (Writer, Illustrator, and Cover Art)
Publisher: Archaia (imprint of BOOM! Studios)