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‘The Steam Man #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

When death comes for you, no bargain will sate its appetite.

The penultimate issue of this series is filled with amazing action and the most dire of consequences. Having engaged the Dark Rider’s contingent of Moloks and their giant wooden “mech,” the brave men crewing Steam begin this issue in the fight of their lives against a foe whose power they’ve not yet begun to understand.  This story has consistently taken me by surprise, and this issue ramps it up in a visceral way.

I’m excited to see how this tale concludes, and then find the original novel and read through it to see how much difference there is.  Joe Lansdale has a great story laid out here, and unlike a lot of books out there where I’m pretty sure by midway who’s going to survive or not, even at the end of this issue I have no idea if anyone will make it to the finale.  This is also helped in great part by Mark Alan Miller’s adapted script, there’s an incredible sense of camaraderie that he has been able to create in such a short amount of time among the heroes. It has made me jump and ache with them at every turn.  This is storytelling that has a punch but is still able to draw you in with the tragic tales on both sides of this Wellsian conflict.  Though there’s an amount of empathy that can be had for the Rider, Miller ensures that we are not able to forget the diabolical and truly evil truth to him.  The arcs throughout these first four issues have been spectacular from a technical standpoint, and the dominoes are collapsing into what can only be a spectacular ending.  The brilliance is that I have no idea what form it will take, whether huge and epic or quiet and emotionally devastating.  It’s the kind of place I love to be this close to the final moments, and I’m incredibly eager for it.

Kowalski’s artistry continues to cement the script into a believable and comprehensive whole.  The palette strays darker in this issue in a way that perfectly mirrors the action within.  The brighter shades flee the page as hope fails our heroes one by one.  The tone of the action marches in step with the fantastic pace of the story, and one of the most gruesome moments is so delicately wrought that we are left wondering as the crew does. And, the payoff – dear god, it’s amazing, uplifting, and utterly devastating all at once (also very, very messy).  This is the kind of imagery that reminds me of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, and it hits as hard in every way that will make you smile while cringing.

A hard-hitting, action-packed, and emotionally fulfilling adventure, this is the kind of sci-fi action that drew me into the genre when I was a kid (maybe a touch darker, maybe).  This is a book that grabs you and doesn’t let go, and you’ll hold it right back all the way to the end.

Share the stories that move you.

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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