Orwell was right. So was Stoker, and probably Seuss too.

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I imagine that as my son grows older he’ll have just as wild an imagination as his father – or even more so.  I see the signs now as he plays and talks, but I wonder what would happen if imagination were outlawed?  Would I break the law so my son could hear about the adventures of Superman, fables of the tortoise and the hare, or even the monsters that lurk under the bed?  Probably.  And if I lived in the City of Dust I’d be arrested quicker than those idiots you see on Cops.

cityofdust2cover.jpgSteve Niles has created a very bizarre world in City of Dust. Not only are fictional books outlawed, but so are imagination and religion.  The lawmakers believe these Mind Crimes are the reason for the last round of wars, and believe creative expression to be an infestation of the mind.  Anyone caught with the contraband is quickly sentenced.  Sentencing can be something as simple as jail time all the way to immediate death as executed by the arresting officer.  If it seems harsh, it is.  The first issue of the series made me depressed and worried about the future my child may grow up in.  The second issue caused me to wonder what happens if the monsters of the Id that are being repressed came to life and retaliated.

The series follows detective Philip Khrome as he tracks down those committing mind crimes.  He is a product of his upbringing, as at an early age he turned in his father for telling him the fable of the tortoise and the hare, and ended up being raised by the system.  While you might think he would be the perfect soldier, he has his own doubts and ideals about the society, which have his higher ups watching him closely. Or, more precisely, it appears as those the higher ups are watching everyone in a Big Brother sort of way.

Last issue Khrome discovered a dead body, whose head had been ripped clean off. There was no evidence of a struggle, or other DNA scattered about, only the body.  When the body was moved, Khrome found the one thing that is verboten – a children’s alphabet book where each letter was represented by a fictional monster.  All in good fun until his supervisors show up and he’s whisked away to be interrogated.  Don’t worry, they do let him go.

But something strange is happening in the city.  People are being murdered in very brutal and savage ways, and the revelation is going to come as quite a shock to every man, woman, and child in the city, if they live long enough.

You may know Steve Niles name from his 30 Days of Night series, so the appearance of certain monsters isn’t a complete surprise, nor is the amount of violence these creatures perpetrate as they satiate their thirsts and hunger.

The appearance of these characters in a futuristic city is quite an interesting twist.  At first the series seems like a mash-up of 1984, Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Minority Report.  After the revelation at the end of the issue, the story becomes more a modern horror story along the lines of 30 Days of Night (no surprise). While I think the concept is wicked cool, I hope there is a deeper story being presented that in itself becomes a parable.

The art by Zid is fantastic.  The noir cityscape is so devoid of color, that the only time we see any life – in terms of color – is when Khrome is kicking it with his hooker girlfriend in the first issue.  Even the blood splattered crime scenes are a dark and brooding color as the environment itself seems to drain all creativity and life from its citizens.  It’s a perfect take on the theme Niles is presenting.

I think everyone owes it to themselves to set aside the mainstream offerings from the big two and explore those issues and titles coming from the smaller publishers.  Radical Comics has delivered a fascinating story in the pages of City of Dust. Niles writing builds the reader up to each major revelations in a way that engages instead of disappoints.  City of Dust #2 is an excellent second installment of the five issue mini-series.  If you like futuristic noir horror, City of Dust is an excellent read.  You’ll need to tell your LCS to get issue #1 so everything makes sense, but as it stands, City of Dust #2 earns a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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1 Comment

  1. George
    November 11, 2008 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    This sounds exactly like the film Equilibrium

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