Gail Williams has all the time in the world.
The Steam Man #2 opens with Captain William Beadle asleep in his chair in the cockpit of The Steam Man itself. Then, he’s on his feet pistol cocked and pointed at John Feathers head, and all because the Native American said “Morning, Captain.” The crew is clearly not having the best start to the day, and they need to be full steam ahead in sixty minutes.
The interaction between Beadle and Feather is wonderful, the statement “John Feather is merely a reflection for Captain Beadle’s insecurities” is amusing to me, as Beadle’s reaction was exactly the “kill me now” type that I would have had. Still the group must push on in search of the Dark Rider to, in the Captain’s words, “go kill that shit monkey.”
Issue two's title, by the way, is The Dark Rider’s Tale, and page 5 takes us where we really want to go. It starts off with beautiful fan panel page of atmospheric, increasingly close up images for the man we are about to focus on.
Unfortunately my first thought was that “that chair in the first panel looks awfully like the one out of the HG Wells’ The Time Machine.
I was right, as on the next page it quickly becomes obvious that the Dark Rider is in fact the inventor of the Time Machine. Forward he goes all the way to 802,701 where he rescues Weena and meets the sheep-like Eloi. When Weena is stolen, The Time Traveller goes after her, but this time he manages to damage the machine so when he goes travels again he discovers that while he manages to save the girl, he has irrevocably changed.
I’ve no idea how ripping asunder the fabric of time and space results in cannibalism, but who am I to question these things? Anyway, I love the last line of this issue, we might see the Steam Man, but we’re reading The Dark Rider, “I love it when my food comes to me.”
While this series is unashamedly using all the story arcs of a load of other older original stories, at least it shows them respect. The Dark Rider is not named here, which is a nod to the fact that, despite what the films might lead you to believe, HG Wells at no point actually names the character, referring to him only as the Time Traveller. While mentioning Wells novel, I’d recommend a read of the original, it’s shorter than I expected it to be and highly readable, very worth the effort. As for the cinematic adaptations, either of the two biggies, staring Rod Taylor or Guy Pierce, are well worth watching, each has twisted the story to suit the capability of effects available at the time, and the newer one will suit the more feminist amongst us.
But as for issue 2 of The Steam Man, generally I would scoff at things that are ripping off other writers works, but I have to say that this is turning out way better than I would have expected had I just been sent the synopsis. I also love the use of language in this comic; it’s earthy and real, so well suited to the time and story. Four out of five from me.
Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and
the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits
and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with
her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find
out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!