Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Steelworks #1 Review


Written by: Micheal DornArt by: Sami Basri
Colors by: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Cover art by: Clay Mann, Alejandro Sánchez
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: June 6, 2023

Steelworks #1 makes way for the grand opening of Steelworks Tower and John Henry Irons's plan to supply the citizens of Metropolis with all the power, tools, and defensive capabilities needed to make the Super-family unnecessary.
Is It Good? 

If the descriptive blurb sounds familiar to regular DC readers, that's because pieces of the Steelworks grand opening have been shown in at least the last two issues of Action Comics. Why DC Comics chose to "steel" the thunder (*heh*) from Michael Dorn's DC comic writing debut in Steelworks #1 is a mystery, but here we are.

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm an above-average Star Trek fan, so when Michael Dorn was announced as the writer of this title, I was taken aback with mixed emotions. Dorn is a big part of Star Trek mythology, so his name generates good feelings and excitement for me. However, guest celebrity writers in comics rarely turn out well, so with the excitement comes apprehension.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised with Steelworks #1. It's a simple, solid, by-the-numbers (in a good way) first issue that sets up Steel as a hero for the people who are about to face a villain poised to destroy every good thing he's built. In case you're not reading Action Comics, Steelworks is designed to become the hub of a central power and defense system designed to give the people of Metropolis the resources needed to help themselves in the realms of development and defense. John's goal, in the nicest terms possible, is to remove Metropolis's dependence on the Super-family for every need and crisis bigger than a bread box.

Watch our Steelworks #1 Video Review

Dorn plays it just right by establishing Irons, whose his own man with lofty ambitions, with a focus squarely on empowering the people. Yet, John is smart enough to know that he can't just ram his plans down everyone's throat all at once. John's plans reach a delicate point, which is exactly the right time for a villain with a grudge to come along and kick the legs out from under John, putting his resolve and intentions to the test.

Dorn's approach to the story, while basic in setup, is impressively nuanced because John isn't portrayed as another superpowered hero bent on punching problems away. John attacks the city's problems with finesse, strategy, and yes, a little political thinking, to maneuver the optics of the situation. You could make the case that John is thinking like an activist, but he's acting like an activist putting in the work to make a positive change for his city. In that way, John becomes a more believable, relatable role model than Superman, depending on your point of view.

What about the villain? To be determined. We know the main big bad is a nefarious industrialist named Charles Walker III, who bought up the remnants of Amertek and clearly has a bone to pick with Irons. If Dorn can develop Walker into something more than a one-dimensional bad guy, he may have a winning antagonist on his hands.

Is the story really good? It's a really good start. Again, guest celebrity writers tend to work out poorly, but the skill Dorn demonstrates in this first issue may be the exception to the rule. This is only the first issue, so it's too soon to tell how it all turns out, but Steelworks is off to a promising start.

How about the art? Gorgeous. Sami Basri's lines and clean, crisp, and detailed. The characters' facial acting is expressive. And Dalhouse's coloring work is excellent.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Steelworks #1 is a solid, simple, but engaging first issue that sets up John Henry Irons as a big hero with a big plan to give power to the people. Dorn's character work., plot structure, pacing, and dialog are excellent, and Sami Basri's art is fantastic. It's too soon to tell if this series is a winner, but issue #1 is a very promising start.


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