first real splash Steve Niles made with 30 Days of Night,
it was clear the guy knew how to come up with catchy ideas.
Vampires attacking a small Alaska town? Brilliant idea, and
yet by the time I got around to actually reading it, the hype
was so great that the book couldn't help but be underwhelming.
Then the few
things I picked up with his byline seemed like recycling
old tropes without coming up with much new. Call it backlash
- I couldn't get into the guy's work, though lots of people
swore by it.
Press' City of Dust: A Philip Khrome Story, it finally
makes sense. The second issue hits the stands today, so
I caught up with old files and thought I'd take a look at
issue #1. Then I had to read issue #2 - which, again, did
I mention, you could pick up today?
Set in an indeterminate
point in our future, City of Dust portrays one of
those dystopian utopias where everything seems nice and
dandy, but something rots underneath it. In this case, the
ruling class determined long before that what truly led
to man's destructive nature was something more primal than
religion - imagination itself.
has been banned. Let's assume that anything thought-provoking
goes along with that. As a child, the protagonist Philip
Khrome accidentally got his father arrested when he mentioned
to a schoolmate that the man had told him a bedtime story.
(In issue #1 he makes it sound like it's the Three Little
Pigs, but later amends that to the Tortoise and the Hare.)
Becoming a ward
of the state, Khrome grows up to be a police officer, at
one point cornering a perp accused of chanting curses at
children. That would actually be saying a prayer for his
kids, but splitting semantic hairs doesn't mean a thing
in this society. The sentence is death, given almost instantaneously
when Khrome spots a crucifix on the man. Not knowing for
sure what it is, he assumes it's a weapon.
of course, it would be. But still, that's about spirituality,
not about the physical, knowable world. For Khrome, that's
all there is.
underneath the shiny spires, there seems to be something
supernatural going on. The first issue actually opens with
the murder of a yuppie couple in an alleyway. Something
picks them up and flays them. In the second issue, we see
creatures that may be the results of some sort of genetic
experimentation gone wrong - except that it seems that the
city has two warring factions of undesirables. One may have
been there for a very, very long time, feeding off of humanity.
when people not only don't believe in you, but can't conceive
gets drawn into this investigating a murder with no DNA
evidence. Though his sensors tell him this is homicide,
all evidence points to…well, nothing. Underneath the corpse,
however, lies a book, and Khrome's curiosity can't keep
him from reading these horrific ABC's (literally).
All this gets
delineated by the moody painting of an artist billed as
"Zid." The work really pops when dealing with the creatures
and the landscape. As often happens with artists of the
grotesque, normal, good-looking humans often suffer in their
portrayals here, all being grim and somewhat interchangeable.
book has a good pace and a great premise. Radical must be
on the edge of a multimedia sale with this one, because
the concept just screams for a movie adaptation. Here we
go again with Steve Niles - but this time, you should jump
on board before the hype gets out of control. It's absolutely