Filed under: Arcana Comics, Comic Reviews | Tags: Arcana Comics, Dwayne Harris, John Henry, Steam punk
If you know your folklore you’ll know exactly who John Henry is and if you don’t you’ll get those blanks filled in by this recent release from Arcana Comics……only this time you get a Steam Punk spin on it.
Starting off with a firm face-to-face between John Henry and a robot aiming to capture and kill John we get a full-blown action scene to kick off as John fights for his life with hammer in hand. We get a flashback to 2-years earlier and the recognizable tale of a railroad worker slogging his guts out to earn a living. Productivity is a key driving force for the railroad developers and completing tunnels and laying tracks are the goal. Up until now the ex-slaves have achieved their “freedom” and have scraped a living together with hard-labour on the railroads…..that’s all about to change with the introduction of steam-powered drillers and track layers – cue John Henry and his gauntlet to face-off against the future tech that will replace him……or so you’d think.
The face-off plays out as you’d expect with John Henry proving that man can beat machine in the railroad game – what changes here though is the notion that the challenge ends with John’s death. Instead, we see John wake up in a hospital following his exertions but in a new world he hadn’t expected. A world ravaged from an uprising of the steam-powered automatons that he’d fought to the brink of death to prevent.
This is where the steam-punk element drifts in and we’re on-board with John as he tries to figure out what happened to the world he remembers and the wife & daughter he left behind. A whole premise developed by Dwayne Harris and I’m pleased to see that the creator acts as both the writer and the artist for this book – I’m sure this keeps Dwayne busy but this ensures that the visuals are tightly linked to the writing ideas and the story that develops.
A strong story holding closely to the folklore, which is part of it’s charm, but taking it in a completely new direction that surprises us – as much for it’s ambition as the realization that this hasn’t been considered before. Dwayne supports this with an industrial level of artwork, mingling the strong steampunk elements with a lengthy flashback sequence and some plot points filtered in through the remains of newspaper stories of the revolution/war that the progress of industry has brought onto the world.
Another strong release from Arcana and with Dwayne holding onto writing/art duties, we’re surely going to become more and more involved in the kind of story that’s constructed before our eyes to leave us desperate to fight alongside John. Roll-on issue #2 – I’ve got my hammer looked out.
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