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COMIC REVIEW: FTN reviews Dark Horse Comics’ Steam Man

September 29th, 2015 by Phil Robinson Comments

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THE STEAM MAN #1
(Dark Horse)
Writer: 
Mark Alan Miller, Joe R. Lansdale
Artist: 
Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: 
Kelly Fitzpatrick
Cover Artist: 
Piotr Kowalski

The [insert seemingly random work here] Man character name has been done to death at this point – hell, it was probably over 30 years ago – but god bless ‘em for still trying. With steampunk slowly yet methodically becoming a part of popular culture, maybe The Steam Man can raise his hat high above the competition, with Dark Horse introducing a fresh idea and a fresh batch of characters.

Joe R Lansdale, of Cold In July fame helms up the beginnings of what could be a great story, from a script by Mark Alan Miller, who works with Clive Barker on his Hellraiser and Next Testament series; and when you put a quote on the from of your first issue from the master of horror himself stating this book is “a must-read”, you would hope you’re on to something special.

From the first panel, Piotr Kowalski’s art is a treat, with our 1899 wilderness setting sending chills down the spine. We’ve entered a brave new world, into the Old West, but one you’ve not quite seen before.

That’s when the gigantic mechanical Steam Man comes KRUNCHing into view. The steam-powered Martian-fighting robot (think Pacific Rim, but real old school, and bearing somewhat of a resemblance to ol’ Honest Abe Lincoln).

The crew that pilot the giant ass-kicker are a little bit more brains than brawn, with their captain William Beadle leading us in with a monologue. The back story is laid out then and there, with the Martians having invaded four years prior. “The world wasn’t prepared for nothin’ like it,” explains the Captain, as the extra terrestrials start bringing the fight. The design of the alien ships is classic sci-fi, nodding back at War of the Worlds.

His team is a rag-tag lot; a boxer, a Native American tracker and the engineer. They go about their business, taking back their fair lands from sea to shining sea; and business is booming. With the nation behind them, Steam Man is the last hope, and what a hope that is, as we jump forward again to find out that the fight is going well. The Martians are one the ropes, but their landing has acted as an invitation to all manner of nasties.

Right now the Steam Man crew are full-time monster hunters, on the trail of The Dark Rider, a vampire with an unending thirst for blood, and a legion of nightmare creatures behind him. With an old score to settle – and hopefully a good bit of the exposition out of the way in this first issue – the stage is set, and it will be mighty interesting to see where the crew of Steam Man go next.

3 out of 5 Nerds

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Hidden deep in the woods, past the abandoned insane asylum and long-forgotten summer camp, off the old dirt road, across the creaky timber bridge, lies a log cabin. Under the full moon some have said they've heard blood-curdling howls from deep in the basement, though none have been brave enough to explore further... If they had, the shocking reveal would be that the screams come from old horror VHS tapes, accompanied by the maniacal laugh of Phil Robinson, brought on by comics and wrestling promos. The self-confessed "horror guy", he has also been known to talk about Spider-Man and heavy metal at great, unnecessary lengths. Yes, he knows he needs a haircut.

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