Gail Williams runs out of steam.
Issue #5 of Steam Man opens on Feather, the last surviving Steam Man crewman, in the garden. He is also nailed to an inverse cross and the carrion eaters are nestled over his tootsies.
He's not the only one in a predicament as inside Captain Beadle is strapped to a slab and the Dark Rider is setting about to torture him. Well he's not setting about it, he is torturing Beadle, and it's surprisingly well drawn torture actually.
What's slightly less believable is the way Feather gets himself off the cross, but more on that later. Anyway Feather manages to release himself and stagger back to the Steam Man. Steam rises and crashes the Dark Riders party. In an attempt not to lose his dinner, the Dark Rider drags Beadle away, heading for the abyss.
The Dark Rider stands philosophising in the edge just long enough for Feather and Steam to catch up. As the Dark Rider jumps, taking Beadle with him, Feather throws a harpoon. Beadle is screaming again (not unreasonably) as he is harpooned back to safety and the Dark Rider continues his dark fall into the abyss.
Finally the two injured men hobble back to the Steam Man. There they decide to leave the leaderless Morlocks to their fate and stride away.
The Steam Man may not ultimately have run out of steam, but the story sure did.
I found this issue generally dissatisfying. Firstly the way Feather got himself off the cross could never have happened. This is not a comment on the pain or courage shown by the character but it's the physical laws the artist keeps breaking. The nails were, in fact, in the right place for crucifixion, but you can't put one nail - however long - through two legs and keep a man suspended that way. The weight of the human body would simply tear the flesh free, possibly a foot or two too. A human certainly can't be suspended that way and lever himself up from that nail to pull that nail out. It just can't happen. I wouldn't allow it in a script I was editing so I can't accept it here.
Second big gripe is the false advertising. The cover shows the Dark Rider dragging Beadle into an open gapping Cthulhu-esque maw. I was expecting similar inside; the Dark Rider getting his comeuppance being digested for all eternity in the the Dark One's endless stomach.
So: seamless story, bad physics and false advertising. A disappointing end for something that started with promise, so ultimately I'm kind of glad I don't have to read on. Overall this series gets a 3 out of 5, but this issues just gets a 1 out of 5 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!