Book Review: City of Dust – Issue 5

CITY OF DUST: A PHILIP KHROME STORY #5 (COMIC)
Written by Steve Niles
Art by ZID, GARRIE GASTONNY and BRANDON CHNG
Published by Radical Publishing
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Color – 28 pages
Price: $2.99

City of Dust #5 is a logical rap up to a clever series by horror comic guru Steve Niles. If you didn’t read the last review City of Dust focuses on Philip Khrome a cop in a Blade Runner meets Fahrenheit 451 type future where all literary or imagination spawned mediums are banned and lead to life in prison. Philip Khrome is suddenly confronted with monsters of old stories forcing him and society to examine the old works of imagination. At the end of the mini-series there are few surprises left to be had so that only leaves the logical final confrontation between the monsters (revealed to be androids and political assassins) and Philip Khrome.

The final confrontation between Khrome and the police force is a pretty entertaining brawl, with some nice references to classic monster weaknesses. There is a particularly funny exchange about Khrome discovering the need for silver bullets to destroy werewolves. Wondering where they are going to get silver from, an android police officer rips off his synthetic skin and says “I can be of service.” In a book like this that obviously has the intent to either have a sequel or ongoing series the obligatory fight has to be epic and paced very well. The story’s art succeeds on this level, although the art in the fifth issue by Brandon Chng seems a bit derivative compared to some of the earlier issues of the mini-series.

Chng lacks consistency in his penciling. Chng’s faces lack details in issue five, but were very expressive in issue 3. There are times when scaled down details fit well into a series, but in the case of pseudo-noir such as City of Dust where shadows play such a large role in the coloring, the details of the characters are very important. The intention of the mini-series to have a sequel wrap- up the destruction of the monsters, but leaves the main characters whereabouts ambiguous. This lets the audience know that the subplot about Khrome’s internal conflict regarding his father’s persecution is unresolved.

This issue returns to other subplots introduced in the first issue, but seemingly forgotten about in the following. Steve Niles is excellent at returning to previous material and expanding a short mini-series into a universe all its own (ex. 30 Days of Night and its sequels). There is certainly no shortage of ways with which Nile’s can develop these characters. Steve Niles has created a memorable character in Philip Khrome and I look forward to reading his future adventures.

Pick one up at Radical Comics

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