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PRICE

Blue Steel – Good Story but Light on Atmosphere

By ScreamingCandle, author of The Strange

May 14, 2017: This is a review specifically for Blue Steel, not Price in general.

Blue Steel, while not a perfect book, is a fun ride through a world of superpowers, cyborgs and merpeople. The nature of the powers itself is always creeping along as a subplot, raising general stakes while not directly impacting this story. As a piece of a larger puzzle that author TanaNari is putting together, it’s a good, grounded point at which to jump off.

Our protagonist, Warren, wants to be an astronaut. His revelation as a low-level “imbued” person whose base power is a healing ability that has some knock-on effects comes as a surprise to him. In a secret base, he is granted the titular Blue Steel enhancement, which is both armor and a replacement for his skeleton via some teleportation surgery. The Steel itself is a power absorber and gadgets are sprinkled throughout. This is faintly reminiscent of Wolverine, but the vibe is very different. This is a government program that uses the person’s unique qualities to allow them to be improved, but Warren is a willing participant and the people running the show are not nearly as nefarious as the Weapon X program.

Half of this story is the origin of this hero combined with some world building to give him some context. The other half is the story of Blue Steel’s first mission. Both parts are fun, but one must be down for the ride to overlook a few flaws in the narrative. The author is very shy with imagery or there is something that doesn’t stick with them. This is an issue that does a disservice to the imaginative designs of the characters and disrupts the scenes where vital information lies within the scenery. Additionally, the personal relationships, specifically the one with the hero Lynx, either are established very quickly or do not seem to arise naturally. Neither one of these issues is a showstopper, but it does make the story bump in places.

To counter what I’ve listed as issues, the narrative is very quick. If one is invested in the story and can gloss over a few confusing moments, things progress in the story very quickly. The story is imaginative and interesting.  . . . And I’m not spoiling things for you. BUT Read the chapter on the Thassans, which is stuck between chapters 13 and 14 on the site FIRST as a prologue. This very interesting concept is not introduced well, which is a true shame. Again, this may have been something that preexisted in the metaverse of TanaNari, but within the context of the story, they came up out of nowhere and I initially thought they were aliens (they weren’t).

And in the issue with the Thassans illustrates the missed opportunity in the story. It runs faster than its legs. Had they been mentioned in passing earlier (Chekov’s mermaid?) their use later would have been a payoff. The lack of striking visuals takes some of the color out of this four-color adventure, leaving it with panels full of dialog balloons. With some foreshadowing and allowing the story a bit more space to breathe this story would have been more satisfying.

The origin of Blue Steel is an enjoyable cannon ball of a superhero story that probably should have stopped to smell the roses a little more than it did. If you want a good superhero yarn it is definitely worth the Price of admission and is, as I mentioned earlier, a good jumping off point to the Price concept.

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