City of Dust #1 Review

Radical launch another title on October 1 with City of Dust, a 5 issue mini-series reminiscent of Blade Runner, Minority Report and the Christian Bale film, Equilibrium. Even those unfamiliar with the work of authors such as Philp K. Dick, certain aspects of this story will still appear familiar, such as the concept of mind crimes. COD’s future world has been constructed upon the belief that “fantasy, religion and imagination were wastes of the human mind, and served to corrupt the individual and pollute the masses.” Imagination is a scary place in this world, which means no comics. How cruel.

A future city where the government controls everything and any fantastic stories or ideologies are outlawed is nothing new. In fact, apart from the art the concept bears a loose resemblance to Freedom Formula, another Radical series. Those similarities are not glaring however and City of Dust makes a rather nasty (in a good way) first impression in its opening pages to ensure it diverges enough from other sci-fi tales.

Steve Niles is a strong enough writer to make this tale more than a knock-off . His horror leanings are hinted at, with multiple, violent deaths and a mysterious pair of bad guys. Well, I think they’re bad guys. Not much is given away. Just enough to entice readers into this world and start salivating for the next issue, especially on the last page where the protagonist is caught red-handed by his superiors partaking in an outlawed activity.

The hero of this adventure is homicide cop Philip Krome. A man filled with doubt, and lust apparently. He unwittingly imprisoned his father as a boy, after being told a classic, and illegal, children’s story. Niles gives Khrome enough uncertainty in his job that we are able to sympathise with him when he kills a nervous man reaching for a crucifix, not a weapon as Khrome assumed. The world building is just beginning and this 48 pager sets the tone well. A massive chunk of that comes from artist Zid.

Zid’s art is close to two of Marvel’s current stars, Adi Granov and Gabriele Dell’otto in the way colour and light is used to create an evocative atmosphere. I’d say this may be Radical’s best looking book to date. If you’re a fan of those artists, you must grab  City of Dust. The sense of depth adds a great deal of realism in the bustling city setting and creates a world of texture and beauty.

The liberally applied violence, profanity and sex also makes this Radical’s most adult book to date, so be warned. With its talk of mind crimes and hi-tech crime fighting gizmos, some hardcore sci-fi lovers may be tempted to roll their eyes with a “seen it all before” attitude. That would be a mistake. As The Matrix showed, as well as the films mentioned above, there is still much uncharted territory in gritty futuristic tales.

Visit here for a massive 19 page preview of this issue.