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[personal profile] superboyprime posting in [community profile] scans_daily
We continue with STEEL #37 and #38. In #37 we meet the assassin Skorpio, who becomes a recurring character. #38 is a team-up with the Question.

We hit a bit of a series slump here. Both issues are flawed in their own way. #37 suffers from a muddy ending and the fact that Skorpio doesn't get especially interesting until later. #38 feels like (and probably is) an inventory story. More on that later.

John's having dinner with his old friend Amanda Quick. A doctor at Garden State Medical Center, she's the person who convinced him to come work there in the first place. She appeared briefly in the previous couple issues, but I don't think I included any of those pages in my posts.

He's called away by the police. There's a murder that warrants his attention.

Shortly after he gets home, Amanda comes over to borrow some of his niece's clothes. She has a date with some cute guy she met at the park.

That night, her mysterious stranger phones.

Yes, Skorpio with a 'k'! It was the 90s.

Steel dons the armor, he and Skorpio tussle briefly, during which time Skorpio manages to hit him with one of those virus-carrying projectiles.

Okay, I've talked a little about Steel's teleportation power, but it probably bears elaboration here. At some point, he discovered that he had the metahuman power to teleport into and out of an empty dimension he called the White Zone. He stashed his armor there, so that he could make it instantaneously appear on his body when he needed it. He stopped using it because the White Zone somehow made his armor come to life and try to kill him. This all happened back when he was living in Washington and Louise Simonson was the writer.

Well, in the middle of his fight with Skorpio, the meta-power's started acting up again. It teleports him all over the Earth, one country after another. Also, it's somehow brought back the evil armor. (That's its claw you saw in the final panel.)

The wild teleportation eventually zaps Steel back to Jersey City. That's where Dr. Villain comes in.

What does that file in the bin say? Tough luck. Those who read the comic in print weren't able to make it out either. You can just make out that the first three words are "psionic amplifier technical" but the last one's plain impossible. Which is unfortunate, because I can think of a few possibilities, and they'd radically alter the meaning of this scene depending on which one was right. See what I meant about a muddled ending?

I suspect Christopher Priest didn't like the concept of the White Zone and this was his way of closing the book on it.

The next issue, #38, I suspect owes its existance to somebody thinking it'd be cool to see Denys Cowan draw the Question again (maybe Cowan himself).

I also suspect it's an inventory issue or something along those lines. It's a completely standalone story and doesn't so much as mention any of the series' subplots. There's also timeline issues that make it an awkward fit: Steel said in the previous issue that he was going to investigate who implanted the psionic device, but he doesn't begin to do so until the issue after this one. BUT this issue has to take place at least a few weeks after the last one. This means Steel waited weeks before beginning investigations.

Well, on with the show. John's in Morocco in search of Dr. Villain, who's been kidnapped. Asking questions gets him mugged.

What John's wearing is his "utility uniform." There was no way he could have gotten his standard armor past Morrocan customs.

The two use the sewers to access Isma'il's home.

Things go south for our heroes. Isma'il explains that Villain owes him a blood debt because he tried but failed to save the life of Isma'il's sick daughter. Isma'il makes a bet with John. If Isma'il wins, John has to mass produce his armor for him. If John wins, Dr. Villain's debt is erased and they get to leave unharmed.

Date: 2010-11-08 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kentstavern
The more I see of Priest;s Steel work the more I think it should be collected, even if it is in the Showcase telephone book format.

Date: 2010-11-08 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] laddical
For some reason, these posts have led me to do some research on Priest, and WOAH, I had no idea who this guy was outside of "Steel" (which I collected at the time out of S-shield loyalty, but wasn't particularly thrilled with - and I think that was in large part because I thought "Dr. Villain" was a stupid name, and the pronunciation issue even moreso).

He was the guy behind Spidey when I was big into Spidey, before my devotion turned over to the Distinguished Competition's boy in blue and red. I had no idea he was the guy who got Peter David on "Spectacular" and thus gave us "The Death of Jean DeWolff", which absolutely freaked the shit out of this ten year old.

Very impressive, and almost makes me look at his "Steel" run in a new light.

But, damn... Dr. Villain. Really?

Date: 2010-11-09 01:08 am (UTC)
philippos42: Paul Rudd (manly)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
Yeah, Owz has one of those careers where I keep running into him, & I like some of it, & some of it not so much. I think he was a pretty good editor for Spidey, bringing in PAD & Ann Nocenti as writers--despite killing off Jean DeWolff. He did some OK stuff with the Ray revival, as editor then as writer. And of course Black Panther, the Question, Quantum & Woody... he's an OK writer.

Date: 2010-11-09 01:09 am (UTC)
philippos42: Paul Rudd (manly)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
But sometimes he makes me roll my eyes.

Date: 2010-11-09 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
You know, it would kind of be nice if Dr. Villain had turned out NOT to be a villain. Just sayin'. I mean, that's kind of major-league predictable, yes?
Vic doesn't seem to have much to do here - besides be awesome, but that's a given. It seems to me that that could just have easily featured plain ol' Steel, all by himself.

Date: 2010-11-10 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, sure, it's pointless if the joke just falls flat, but the story could feature him being a major SUSPECT as the main villain, everything pointing towards him being the big baddie, and then, at the last minute, we find out he's NOT - it's someone completely different - and he's outraged both at the fact that they believed him to be guilty and by the fact that they were at least partly led down that track by his name. 'It's WILL-HANE, dammit! It's not evil, it's FRENCH! And no jokes.'


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