SteelWool #1
Written by: Austin Allen Hamblin
Art by: Johannes Vick
Published by: Hamblin Comics

The cover of SteelWool #1 only shows a mask so I’m guessing that the book probably has something to do with a superhero? The credits page is what stop me cold. I had never heard of Johannes Vick – the man who created, wrote, and drew the issue. I had never heard of Austin Allen Hamblin – the man who helped with the story and wrote the script to SteelWool #1. But the issue was edited by the one and only Wade Shaw. Now to most people reading this around the world you may say to yourself, “Okay, dude…who the hell is Wade Shaw?” I won’t get into what Wade Shaw does in the real world…but I will say that without Wade Shaw I would have never become a writer. Well….I can’t say that but what I can say is that without Wade Shaw I would have never written my very first piece I wrote for Newsarama, which led to many great years working for the website. So seeing Wade’s name on a comic perked my interest up about a thousand fold before even reading word bubble #1.

SteelWool #1 is about a young girl whose life seems to be changing quite drastically. Now for Alicia it seems that her world is already very different than most high school girls. For one she’s on the football team. Most times you hear a woman on a football team and you think she’s the kicker. Not in Alicia’s case. She’s also a smartass who can be considered a bit of a tomboy (though I hate using that word because I think it has a negative connotation). Let’s just say she’s super awesome and won’t take shit from anybody.

She seems like she has one friend: a pretty nice guy named Dakota who has a killer blue mohawk. And with that life goes on for Alicia except for the fact that something is happening to her. I’m not saying she’s developing superpowers or anything. I don’t know if this is that type of book…yet. But the changes are affecting the girl’s appetite along with her strength. Throw in some pages that deal with something going on at a secret military base and we’ve got a plot that truly can go anywhere. The book shows the Army plot twice but never explains how they military and Alicia are connected or even if they are at all. The book doesn’t explain what is going on with Alicia though it does show what she is going through.

Is she a mutant? An alien? Did she drink too much lead from the local water? No clue. While I like the story here, as it truly interests me, it almost feels like they didn’t give the reader enough to go on. Why does this matter? When you have a great bunch of guys putting together a indy book they all know exactly where the story is going. The reader? The reader has to wait months between issues. NOW – this first issue actually has a release date of January 2017. The second issue is forthcoming. For me I don’t have much of a wait because I didn’t buy this back in January. The same as any of you who may decide to pick up the book now. But for those who bought the book when it came out? It’s a long time to wait and see what happens. In not giving too much away and having a bunch of months between issues I think that may hinder the book.

Beyond not revealing enough for me I will say that both the writing of the book and the artwork were pretty great. I really like how the character of Alicia was written. It always impresses me when a male writer is able to write a female main character well. My favorite comic book is Strangers in Paradise – an indy book about two women written by a man (Terry Moore). I have no clue how Terry gets inside the head of women and write these books so well. I get the same feeling from SteelWool – like it could be another amazing Terry Moore book. It’s good to see that Terry doesn’t monopolize strong female characters. So I’m truly impressed on how writer Austin Allen Hamblin handles Alicia.

I’m really digging artist Johannes Vick’s artwork. I can really tell he loves drawing both Alicia and Dakota as their panels are usually the best in the entire book. The high school itself feels a bit empty – like more kids could have been drawn to make it feel like a bustling Pennsylvania school. I get the impression from reading SteelWool #1 that there’s probably 40 kids or so at the school. I hate saying crap like that…I just feel like I’m nitpicking at something silly.

I’m looking forward to where this book is going. I like Alicia. I like Dakota. I’m intrigued on what is going on with Alicia and where exactly her arc is going. I’m also interested to see how the military plays in to all this. I want more. I want exposition. I really like the story and art enough to read the second issue to see where this is all leading. Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.

RANK: B+

Learn more about SteelWool at: https://www.facebook.com/SteelWoolComic
Find Austin Allen Hamblin at: https://www.facebook.com/AustinAllenHamblin
Find Johannes Vick at: https://www.facebook.com/johannesvick

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