Disclosure: The reviewer received a review copy of this book via NetgalleyThe Jekyll Island Chronicles, Book One: A Machine Age War by Steve Nedvidek, Ed Crowell, Jack Lowe, Moses Nester
Series: The Jekyll Island Chronicles
Genres: Comics, Fiction, Science Fiction
Type: Graphic Novel
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I was intrigued by this alternate history dieselpunk adventure. The idea of pitting the resources of the uber-wealthy members of the Jeckyll Island Club against a cabal of anarchists during the Interwar Period seemed interesting. Unfortunately, this volume did not deliver.
The book has an extremely thin plot. For some odd reason, the progressive President Woodrow Wilson–who has the enormous resources of an army that has not yet fully demobilized–must beg the wealthy industrial robber barons–who he had historically been at odds with–for help combating a secret group of international anarchists. So, while the inefficient federal government is mired in its Byzantine politics, it is up to the righteous forces of American Industry to save the day. It’s like the Koch Brothers decided to make a comic book.
Spurred to action by Andrew Carnegie, the Jeckyll Island Club members put together a team of superheroes who are augmented with the day’s latest technology. This team responds to the various threats from the Zeno organization, a stereotypical evil terrorist group that is sowing anarchy so that they may grab the reigns of monarchical power.
This is a graphic novel, and great artwork can make up for many story faults. Being a dieselpunk tale set at the end of the Gilded Age, I was expecting spectacular set pieces with bright colors and detailed line art that would transport me into that world. Unfortunately, the art disappointed. There were views of airships, locomotives, and castles; but none had the clear detail or expansive views that would dazzle the reader.
What Makes it Epic Grit:
- Adventure and Wonder: Meh.
- Believable Characters: No.
- Real Consequences: There were a fair amount of redshirt deaths, and a key casualty from the Jeckyll Island Club.
- Epic in Scope: Yes. They were battling a group bent on domination.
- Subverts “Good versus Evil” Tropes: No.
- Different Perspectives: No.
The book comes across as a parable of Randian Capitalism and American Exceptionalism thinly disguised as an adventure story. Very thinly. The story and artwork failed to excite.