Friday, September 8, 2023

Review: Steelworks #4

Steelworks #4 came out this week and was a decent middle chapter as we enter the back half of this mini-series. I have overall been very pleased with this book but this book is built on a plot point that I found a little hard to swallow.

Writer Michael Dorn has been weaving a solid story of John Henry Irons hoping to bring clean energy to Metropolis. A side bonus of this energy would be to install a technological defense system that would make super-heroes unnecessary, including Henry's Steel persona. Embedded into the story are a few character beats. Natasha wondering why John wants to stop being Steel. Lana and John and their love story is unfolding. And, of course, the villains from Amertek wanting to control the energy.

This issue is really focused around the new energy source, fueled by the Genesis stone from Warworld. John wants to use it. The Silver Mist wants to steal it. It has serious side effects to those around them. But there are some problems for me in how it unfolds. John's protection of the zero energy globe is suspect in my mind. The explanation around the side effects has a big plot hole. And even how it ultimately gets in the hands of the villains seems wrong. This was a bumpier ride than the prior issues.

The art by Sami Basri and Vicente Cifuentes continues to be smooth and polished. There are some hyper-stylized expressions But the page layouts and panel shapes really help drive the story forward. I've always like Basri.

So overall, a decent issue. On to the issue.

There have been any number of odd occurrences recently and Dorn does a good job of reminding me of these by having John recount them to Lana. After all, Lana 'regained' her Superwoman powers last issue and John wants to find out why. 

Thankfully John wonders if there is something which could unite everything, a common explanation. It seems pretty obvious to me. But I suppose John will have to get there.

I am pretty impressed with Dorn and his callback to Lana's Superwoman days. I had to go back and look to remind myself how she lost the powers.

The Red Mist just sort of walks up the Steelworks and ends up phasing into the building, making a beeline to the main vault. John suits up.

I like this page for a lot of reasons. The coloring here, with everyone bathed in the red of a 'red alert', is slick. John having Jay Nakamura come up with some excuse to give the media is a fun discussion.

But really I love the bottom panels where Lana shows she isn't going to hide in the face of danger. She can help. Love the energized fist.

The Silver Mist ends up in the vault and finds the Zero Point Globe in a special box in the middle of the room. He straps a bomb to it and blows it up.

I do like this two page spread of tall, thin vertical panels which move the action along quickly. With that, the Mist runs away.

Okay, here is the first odd point.

It turns out the globe in the fancy box was a fake. The real globe was unlocked in a drawer in the vault labeled 'family photos'. The fake one also had some defensive tech so Steel can track the Mist.

The idea of a fake globe being where you might think it would be as bait is solid. But why not have the globe locked up in some remote vault? Or in his office? Having it lie around seems wrong. Why not have it far away from where people would think it would be. After all, if a super-hero brawl erupts in the vault, most likely that drawer get smashed and people will find the thing.  This is my first plot point I raised an eyebrow on. 

Lana's face in the first panel is a little too exaggerated. But I like the interaction. I think her interactions with Steel are charming.

Next plot point that seems off. 

The 'cleaners' come to clean the vault. With just a word they are let in. 

Yup, they're bad guys. 

You would think that John Henry, so intent on a city-wide tech defense system would have some better way of determining if someone is actually who they say they are. 

That night, Superman shows up.

All the super-family have been altered, the genetic code changed. 

Hmmm ...

No earth-shattering surprise, it turns out it is the Genesis Energy in the orb. Well, no surprise to me. I am surprised that John couldn't put it together. Love Superman's surprised look!

But now a few more problems.

First off, John and his staff has been working with this thing for a while. Why isn't he changed (unless that is going to be revealed)? But he can't be the only person in Steelworks who was near it. And given Natasha has been impacted, I can't say that it only effects metas. 

Second, this probably should have been a known possibility given Superman has been super-charged since his time on Warworld. So maybe things should have been thought of? Has Superman been further effected? He has been near the globe with Conner and the others.

But then the last and third problem. This globe is also a fake ... a second fake. The real globe was unlocked, 'hiding in plain sight' in a different place in the vault. And now stolen by those fake cleaners. I already have a problem with the globe being unlocked in the vault. But why pull out this second fake and not tell Lana? And why carry around this second fake? Was he hoping to lure a second attack?

It's the not telling Lana that seems wrong to me. But it also means that he left the real globe unguarded right after an attempted theft.

I just think John would be smarter than this. 

I know the villain getting the orb had to happen from a plot perspective. But this seemed like the story was written in a way to get there with a few gaps.

I still enjoyed the issue and this series. I really like Lana being around.

Overall grade: B

1 comment:

  1. A drawer marked ‘family photos’ in a lab, that’s a bit weird. I agree that the villains shouldn’t be able to come and go so easily.

    While I’m not down with the idea that John would want a world without superheroes - it’s not a matter of letting Metropolis folk look to themselves, there’s the small matter of regular attempted invasions by aliens - I can also see that Lana might think it a good idea, from learning Superman’s secret ID on, her life’s been well mess up by super-powers.