The Steam Man sounded pretty great when I read the blurb. I immediately thought to myself Steampunk Pacific Rim meets War of the Worlds, this has the potential to be awesome. I think though, at its heart, The Steam Man is a good old buddy story/revenge story and that threw me off a little on my first read through. It would be fair to say I felt very disappointed as I didn’t get what I was expecting, and I felt cheated by that.
The promise of a SciFi/Steampunk mix sounds great, but it quickly changes into a supernatural type story that doesn’t seem to follow much logic. The enemy quickly flips from War of the Worlds type tripod armoured aliens so some sort of supernatural vampire enemy and this is a problem. There is one brief titan fight and then that particular enemy is vanquished, it’s like someone offered you your favourite bar of chocolate and as soon as it’s in your grasp you realise it’s a banana. It’s not so much that the story is bad – it’s actually pretty good in places – but it’s the exact opposite of what I wanted.
The writing isn’t bad, and the comradery that is built between the crew of the Steam Man is pretty entertaining. Each of the four members has his own archetype and they fit together quite nicely. The rules of the new world are introduced and easy to understand, as is the main quest: there are no female characters though, and I can imagine that will not sit well with everyone.
The line art by Piotr Kowalski and colours by Kelly Fitzpatrick work and are true to the time. One would think Kowalski was using a quill and bottled ink to illustrate the comic, much as you would see in turn of the century Dickens novels, and the colour pallet of hued browns and oranges used by Fitzpatrick compliments the apocalyptic/scorched earth and western feel to the story.
Bottom line, if you like Clive Barker type horror (he’s even quoted on the cover) then you’ll love this book. If you were expecting Steampunk Jaegers versus Aliens then you’ll be badly disappointed, but the buddy elements of the story will keep you entertained. Overall though, this wasn’t one for me.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @jockdoom