01/08/2012. Contributed by Andy Whitaker
pub:Arcana Comics. 36 page comic/pdf file. Price: $ 5.00 (US). Limited to 200 copies).
check out website: www.arcanacomics.com
Former slave John Henry wasn't about to let some new-fangled steam-hammer replace his ability to earn an honest wage as a steel-driving man. He'd beat that machine or die with his hammer in his hand. We all know the outcome of that legendary contest. In this alternate history, however, John doesn't die in his heroic effort, but instead slips into a coma, only to awaken to his worst nightmare. A robotic uprising has occurred and a new age has dawned, The Steam Age. Now, the only thing that can free the human race from the very machines they've created is John and his hammer. 'John Henry: The Steam Age' is an exciting re-imagining of an American folk hero in a steampunk setting.
This is a preview book presenting the first chapter in a three-part mini-series. I don't have access to the full book having to make do with the review copy that contains the cover and five pages. Having said that, there is more than enough material here to give me a taste of the finished article. The artwork and layout is up to the normal high standard of Arcana publications and the colouring adds to the ambiance of the tale. As the product description says this is a re-telling of the John Henry tale but set in an alternative steampunk setting and by the look of it, it is not one you would want to go on your holiday to. For the average human, it looks rather desolate, bleak and probably dangerous.
The question is would I pay $5 for this special edition preview book? In all honesty, probably, yes. I appreciate that the content will probably be repeated in the mainstream edition and at this moment I have no idea if this preview edition ends at a logical break point in the story, but $5 is not an awful lot of money. If the 'John Henry: The Steam Age' series goes on to become a success then I'm willing to bet that the $5 special edition preview book will be worth quite a lot more. The only trouble is getting your hands on one of the 200 being produced.
If, like me, you are unlikely to get hold of the special edition preview book then I do recommend that you keep an eye out for the main edition. It does look to be an interesting story and worth the wait.
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