I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one slightly worried about the “Steel” one-shot before I read it. Several recent interviews with Steve Lyons had him casually mention that his original pitch for the comic involved Steel fighting Metallo, and it wasn’t until later (and Sean Chen had already drawn part of the one-shot) that he was asked to change it to Doomsday. Oh, and despite the fact that it’s a crossover that’s going to spill into other titles, he had no idea what would happen in the remaining chapters.
It’s that sort of behind-the-scenes glimpse that can wear down your enthusiasm a bit. But I’ve been reading and enjoying Lyons’ books since “Conundrum” was published in 1994, and I like the character of Steel, so despite some slight mistrust of the final product (and a bit of disdain for the character of Doomsday), I decided I’d give it a whirl.
Unfortunately, this has none of the cleverness or wit that I’ve come to associate with Lyons. I suppose it at least bears a small resemblance to the original “The Death of Superman” storyline that introduces Doomsday. Of course, “The Death of Superman” was an utterly mindless six issue fight scene, and it doesn’t bode well for the remaining chapters of “Reign of Doomsday.” There’s a lot of Steel fighting Doomsday, and Doomsday growing armor to stop him. Repeat as necessary.
Very little of what makes John Henry Irons a fun character is present here. Aside from an 11th hour technological weapon deployed out of the blue, we don’t get his intelligence shown here. And while his niece Natasha is present, their relationship as shown here could’ve just as easily been a co-worker, or coffee buddy. (Natasha herself seems stuck in the role of “exposition assistant” and “woman in peril,” neither of which is the strong-willed character that people like Louise Simonson, Christopher J. Priest, or most recently James Robinson wrote about.) It’s an utterly generic character, here.
I know that Ed Benes had to step in at a late hour, once the original one-shot was thrown out and Sean Chen didn’t have time to draw a whole new comic. So while I’m willing to forgive him a little bit for some substandard art, at the end of the day it’s still substandard art. Backgrounds are usually missing, poses are awkward, the inks are rough, and Doomsday doesn’t even look like Doomsday that much. It’s a clumsy looking comic.
There’s nothing new brought to the table here. Punches thrown, loud growls, sacrificing one’s self to protect innocents, and even a deliberately murky “death” that could just as easily be undone. (In someone else’s comic, no less, since it’s unresolved here.) Lyons said he’s been promised more work at DC. I hope that’s true, but only because I want to see something that reminds me of his normally much stronger writing. This is a bad start to a crossover.