Saturday, November 27, 2010
Another of the dozen or more small comics publishers with big dreams who crashed and burned in the 1980's was NOW Comics. NOW tried to establish themselves as a profitable company in the same way that others, like Comico, had tried before them: by producing comics based on licensed properties. In the case of NOW, they produced comics based on Speed Racer, The Terminator, and even Married... With Children.
But they also tried their hand at original properties, which is where Rust comes in. Rust, scripted by Fred Schiller from an "original story" by Steve Miller and Bill Harrison, tells the story of Scott Baker, a cop who is the victim of an industrial accident involving toxic waste or something. It coats his body with rock-hard "skin" and makes his touch toxic. And between his own misadventures and the machinations of the evil Benzodyne Corporation, which was apparently the origin of the toxic waste in question, his life goes downhill rapidly. He was kind of a low-rent cross between Swamp Thing and Concrete.
That's what I'm gathering from the second issue, anyway. As the issue opens, Scott gets a visit from a group of good-hearted street people, at least one of whom is a Vietnam vet. Scott then decides to go for a walk, where he seems to levitate some aluminum cans (?) while opining about how everything he touches either rusts or dies. At which point a couple carloads of gang bangers drives up and decides to hassle the freak. First they try pounding him with a baseball bat, and when that does nothing, they pull out guns and shoot.
Six guns fire, and seven guys die from the ricochets. It's seriously idiotic.
Anyway, there some other nonsense about the homeless people being people and not freaks, and there's some sort of subplot where Benzodyne is offering a reward for information about Rust. The homeless folks vow solidarity with their bud Scott, but $50,000 bucks is a lot of money.
Meanwhile, Scott's being broody in his trashed-out house, so he tosses his teddy bear Rupert into the river.
There's a few more pages of boring filler featuring the Chief of Police taking orders from Benzodyne and more soul-searching from the homeless about the reward. And then we see Scott playing with Rupert, who is looking seriously trashed and nasty after his float in the river or canal or whatever it was. No explanation about why Rust took him back.
So Scott's conteplating suicide when some folks from issue one show up--Sherm and Jessica, the former owners of a diner that got burned down, along with their daughter Cheryl, who thinks Scott is the greatest. They're homeless now (it's a theme, apparently) and need a place to stay. And since Cheryl thinks Rust is neat, they ask to stay in Scott's nasty hovel.
There's a review here of a later issue in which the reviewer thinks Cheryl is retarded or something, but I think it's just that Fred Schiller can't write little girls, because seriously. Toxic zombie teddy Rupert is not going to be enthusiastically received by any little girl.
The art is by John Statema who made a career out of filling in for better artists on books like Evangeline, Grimjack and Prime. He was also the subject of an odd on-line death hoax. Inks were by Bob Dvorak with muddy, muddy colors by Cygnet Ash.
Rust ran for seven issues, although you can probably tell from my comments above that I didn't stick around for them. And unlike other characters who went on to be revived at other companies or on-line, Rust never returned.