Clunk clunk hissssh thunk and a boom.
The rowdy and aimin’-to-misbehave crew of the Steam Man continue to search the wilderness for the Dark Rider and his minions. After braving yet another potentially mission-ending shortfall, they finally make ready to battle their foe. I’ve become rather obsessed with this adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s Wellsian Steampunk tale. There’s great world building that is coupled with wonderful character development and some stunning splash pages. Every page is consistently awesome, with every aspect coming together fantastically. This team is solid through and through.
Mark Alan Miller has found a wonderful balance in storytelling aspects with his work. The text is always engaging, informative, and well written, but he doesn’t try to do too much with it, allowing the art to take the lead when it makes sense to do so. Sometimes, it seems that folks adapting from prose fall too in love with the original author’s words and want to cram as many as possible onto the page, forgetting what the strength of the comics medium truly is, whereas Miller completely avoids that pitfall. He knows just how much we need to be told, while the art shows us the rest really quite well.
Speaking of . . . I think this may be one of my favorite teams on the art side I’ve seen in a bit. Piotr Kowalski and Kelly Fitzpatrick manage to carry the load that Miller sets up for them admirably, and, boy, do they make some impressive splash pages. I’ve seen more than my share of mechas, mechs, and giant robots of various ilk, and yet this comparatively simplistic Steam Man seems more realistic and impressive than any other. They seem to have focused on all of the little truths that such a contraption would be based on and fill in with the fantastic only when needed. Much like using CG tech to marry disparate parts of a scene together (Think the original Jurassic Park.) instead of completely fabricating nonsense from nowhere (Think of that imaginary pear from Attack of the Clones . . . ugh.), this approach makes us believe in it more because of all the little details that we can’t get past otherwise. Color and form are intertwined beautifully, and every character in the book seems to be exerting real effort to save the Dark Man, which sets up the final confrontation wonderfully. I think the final page of this book may be the most perfect setup for a final issue that I have ever seen, and I can’t tell you anything about it without spoiling some wonderful bits of story, but it’s an image that draws the eye perfectly as you cycle through focal points and the background redoubles upon the foreground in a cascading masterpiece. I’m actually going to see if I can get a print of it; it’s one of my favorite images that I’ve ever seen.
If you still haven’t jumped on board, I can tell you that it’s worth picking up the back issues and getting a load of this awesome story. If you have been keeping up, then you’re in for a hell of a penultimate issue, and I can’t wait for next month!
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