City of Dust #3 Review

cod3_covera_clint_langleyThere are very few series I look forward to each month. This is one of the fortunate to make the cut. Along with Geoff Johns’ Action Comics, Paul Dini’s Detective Comics and select titles from Jeph Loeb and Brian Michael Bendis, I know with City of Dust I’m guaranteed a good read.

Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) has used the series thus far to craft a tight story within a compelling world. There’s no extraneous information. Every character, every concept and every panel is all there for a reason. 5 issues isn’t a lot to make a lasting impression with an original concept from a new publisher, but Niles and his assorted artists serve up quality by the shovel full.

City of Dust’s core concept is an intriguing one. In the future, creativity is basically abolished, with all religion and art banned so as not to corrupt the minds of the masses. Protagonist Philip Khrome is a cop who imprisoned his father years ago for reading him a fairytale, but now he is beginning to see that perhaps such stories aren’t as corrupting as the lawgivers say.

cod3_coverb_lucioIssue 3 opens with a gruesome scene, of which this series is not shy of, as Khrome uses some old school CSI techniques to determine exactly what happened. His superior, Blake believes Khrome’s mind is slightly askew for not putting his trust in the crime scene bots, who say that there is no evidence amongst the bloody corpse. Facing suspension, Khrome walks away, with fellow cop, Sonja to check out an old evidence storage area. At the same time what appear to be werewolves brutally attack a high society ball. Khrome gets called into Blake’s office, but instead of receiving the expected, “You’ve gone too far! You’re off the case!” type scenario we’ve seen in every Steven Seagal film, Khrome gets a surprise. Blake takes his face off, revealing himself to be a Terminator-like android, created by Henry Ajax. Ajax was once a respected proponent of hi-tech gadgetry, but has now gone underground after being disgraced. Blake and Khrome visit him, surrounded by assorted monsters, and the importance of Khrome’s father in the story takes another step forward. The dramatic change in behaviour from Blake can only be attributed to him “saving face” in front of the other cops, due to the fact that moments later he’s pleasantly talking to Khrome like an old buddy. With Sonja, and now Blake, it seems Khrome’s allies are growing, but they still prefer to remain closet friends, lest they too get in trouble with the harsh authorities. This is never spoken, despite Khrome’s noir-like captions (which work well), so there is some assumption on the part of the reader, which is never a good move. However, the series’ concept and visuals rise above these minor storytelling distractions.

cod3_coverc_michal_ivanThis isn’t the best issue so far, and has less of the supernatural elements introduced in the previous two issues. The art is also different, but not in a jarring way. Brandon Chng handles the art chores here, whereas it was Zid on the previous two. Both have a similar painterly style, with great textures and lighting effects, but Zid’s is the better of the pair. This issue is a slight mis-step in the series as it doesn’t really propel things forward until the last few pages, but with only two issues remaining until the conclusion, Niles will undoubtedly unleash a barrage of blood, and answers, upon us as the sci-fi scenario and horror elements finally meet head on, as tantalisingly promised in this series.

This issue goes on sale December 24.

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