CENTENNIAL DAY UNDER SIEGE! As crowds gather for Metropolis's biggest annual celebration--Centennial Day--danger lurks on the horizon as Charles Walker III and his deadly Silver Mist plan their endgame against John Henry Irons! When the Steelworks tech turns on its creators, Steel will need the help of the entire Super-Family to turn the tides...but is that their true plan?
All John Henry Irons wants to do is make Metropolis safe and bring cheap energy to the world. He’s been thwarted at every turn as the series has gone on. And as the series has gone, it has lost the complexity that made the first issue such a standout. Unfortunately this continues with Steelworks #4.
Silver Mist races through Steelworks Tower as Steelworks #4 opens. He’s after the genesis orb–the device powered by Genesis Energy that John Henry has planned to build his Metropolis defenses around. None of the Tower defenses can stop Silver Mist who makes off with the orb. Except he doesn’t. John Henry had already switched it with a fake which is what Silver Mist took. In the wake of that invasion, John Henry learns that the Genesis Energy powering the orb is dangerous to everyone exposed to it. But when the orb John Henry holds doesn’t cause problems for him or Lana, he realizes that he, too, has a fake.
Steelworks #4 leans into a more traditional superhero/supervillain story here. That’s to be expected as the series goes on. It is unfortunate, though, that most of the more complex ideas that made up the series’s foundation have dropped into the background. The principle one that remains here is the discovery that the Genesis Energy is harmful. It throws a major wrench into John Henry’s plans and hopefully will come into play when the series wraps up.
The double misdirect for the stolen orb is clever. Once John Henry reveals that he stashed the “real” orb (the second fake), expectations are completely disarmed before the next theft. Dorn makes enough of a meal out of John Henry’s swap that even seeing Charles Walker’s henchman doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that there is another orb to steal.
Silver Mist gets still more attention in Steelworks #4, but he’s somewhat of a stock villain at this point. The emotional power behind the character that was front and center in the first issue is long gone. Like John Henry’s grand plans, Silver Mist’s emotional backstory could make a reappearance going into the final issue. But he’s grown considerably less interesting.
The issue delivers an extended action sequence that is very well realized by Basri and Cifuentes. Indeed, the art is what holds the attention throughout. There is constantly a sense of movement with Steel and Silver Mist during this sequence. The artists capture a sense of wonder in Silver Mist’s face as he looks at the genesis orb. There are lines contouring his face and creating a kind of crinkled look above his nose with very wide eyes. The character also has stubble which is a nice touch and offers a slight reminder of what he was like when we first met him.
The artists use a lot of heavy shading and thick inks on John Henry’s suit. The result is that the suit has heft and weight. When he’s in motion, there is a power behind him.
Dalhouse’s coloring adds still more to the action. Different colors are used for the various sections of Steelworks Tower. It reinforces the sense of movement with the character and helps convey the size of the building which we haven’t seen much of yet.
Leigh is using a device here that he’s used in every issue. He attaches the various characters’ logos to their caption boxes along with corresponding colors. The colored boxes would have sufficed on their own, but the logo gives them more prominence–these lines are still important, they’re not just throwaways as the scene changes.
Steelworks is a series that started with a very strong first issue but has lost a step with each subsequent one. The big ideas continue to fall further into the background. That isn’t to say the series can’t regain that complexity. But it doesn’t happen in Steelworks #4.
Steelworks #4: Deadly Genesis
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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