Grunge Fantasy Perfection: ‘The Rust Kingdom’ Reviewed

by Tito W. James


The Rust Kingdom takes readers on a visceral journey through a twisted grim fantasy world. The lovers of Andrew MacLean and James Harren won’t be disappointed.

“In a wild land inhabited by worms and deformed barbarians, a swordsman with no name rises from a hole in the ground. Determined to reach his destination, he will smash everything he finds in his path. Everything. This is a story of flesh, blood, dust, blades and rust.”

The Rust Kingdom by Spugna is a prime example of a new wave of “grunge fantasy.” Much like in Dorohedoro we are thrown into the deep end of the cesspool and slowly piece together the world and its characters. I was immediately drawn into this decaying fantasy world, which reminded me of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Land.

While the world-building and bizarre characters are great, the bloody visceral action is what steals the show. Each fight is expertly paced with moments of tension building to massive payoffs. The kinetic speed of the swordplay never gets old. The Rust Kingdom looks and feels like the kind of comic we would have made as a teenagers if we’d actually had the talent. It’s brutal, inappropriate, manically-creative, and I had a goofy grin on my face the whole time I read it.

I saw a recent interview with Pat Mills (Slaine) where he lamented that modern comics have lost their edge and no longer cater to young readers. I can concur that most comics labeled as YA are completely declawed. That’s why I hope that The Rust Kingdom doesn’t remain an underground comic that’s only read by pretentious hipsters in their late twenties (like myself). This should be in the hands of every 14-year-old edge-lord who’s bored in class and needs an escape.

The Rust Kingdom is available now from Hollow Press.

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