3 out of 5
No color, no words: this is Spugna digging into an experimental side of storytelling to see if they can enhance the world of Rust Kingdom through black and white images alone. And while that mode of comics isn’t new, the artist does bring their own spin to it, working with a completely set of characters and setting, and employing a made-up “language” for the dialogue – a set of (I’d suppose) indecipherable scribbles – wholly isolating the events of Gnomicide to something that isn’t necessarily read so much as experienced.
And while it does feed directly into the opening of Rust Kingdom, that “isolating” sense does make Gnomicide feel more like a challenge than a necessary story, exactly. Which doesn’t make it unworth our time, as the extended chase / battle between a group of gnomes and the pursuing teethy worm creatures is all sorts of illustrated grotesquerie excitement, Spugna navigating the wordless-ness of the thing through visual signposting (the gnomes differ in teeth, and weapons of choice) and close-ups on faces so we can understand the gist of conversations. But again, it’s a bit distancing: hitting a page with a wall of scribbled dialogue isn’t immediately encouraging, and it does feel like there’s maybe an even more concise version of this that did away with that restraint, or went fully silent. And teeth and weapons aside, the way the gnomes are differentiated ends up feeling a bit pointless – not to go full spoiler, but they’re essentially just worm creature fodder; in that more concise version of this, perhaps just one gnome is selected as a POV type, and given unique features.
Rust Kingdom is still the one to own – the one you’ll reread, and recommend – with Gnomicide being a fun (if not necessary) addition, giving us the gift of more Spugna weirdness.