Steampunk Originals Volume 1 - Various, Mike Schneider, Red Tash, Thom Chiaramonte, Dave J Clifford, CW Cooke, JM Desantis, Christopher M Faulkner, George Ford, Jim Frankenstein, Grant Fuhst, April Guadiana, David C. Hayes, Axel Howerton, Paul Izzo, Allen Jacoby, Larson James, Jared Konopitski, Michael
Reviewing a graphic novel is never easy, and when that graphic novel is a collection of almost thirty shorts, one shots and ads, it's even harder.

First, a little about the rating: the actual stories being told in this anthology are fairly average, and rely heavily on an understanding of stereotypes to convey their messages in a small space. My biggest complaint with the stories was that a fair number of them really needed to be longer in order for me to care what what happening. However, many of them introduce a half-explained conflict and then simply end. I assume these stories will be continued in a later publication, but for the sake of a contained review, I found this mostly jarring and frustrating as a reader. Unconventional Conventions, The Lost City, Steaming Pile, and Diwali were particularly guilty of this. Diwali also "stands out" as the only story in the collection with typos and a very disconnected narrative of Rama the Steadfast with Rama of this universe.

The one-shots fared a lot better in my opinion, and I thoroughly enjoyed the false ads running all through the publication. There was a surprising amount of zombie inferences in the offerings, as well. Even though I'm not a huge zombie fan, it was interesting to see how they played a part in the various steampunk universes that were on display for this anthology.

Overall, the stories of this anthology get three stars. Only a couple stick out in my mind: Gargoyles (for its amazing art and dystopian setting), Punching Up the Act (twisted humor, but I still can't really see it as connected to steampunk in any way), Rule, Britannia! The Messenger (the opener, with good reason). Probably my least favorite stories were Bushido and Gladiatrix, both of which felt flat and not well-thought out, but as someone who has studied Japanese history and now lives in Kyoto, Bushido just felt like a stereotyped mess. Gladiatrix annoyed me, perhaps because her name almost felt ironic for the message the story was trying to give, but not ironic in the intentional or edgy way.

So, after all of that, why four stars?

The art. This collection features a huge array of really intimate and unique styles that keep the eye hugely entertained through even the subpar reads, and that's arguably the most important element for any graphic media. SteamPunk Originals, Vol. 1 had a fantastic melting pot of the elegant and rough, realistic and cartoon illustration styles, and for that, I bump my rating. For steampunk, the visual interest is even greater, so I really like the overall concept of this anthology.

At 102 pages, it's well worth a look, especially if you like steampunk!