Our story begins at the height of Prohibition on an Earth that resembles nothing less than a steampunk Chicago, with flying cars, steroids that grant superpowers and mechanical limbs commonplace. Michael Iron is a “problem-solver” for The Syndicate – one of the three rival interests fighting for control of the city. After one of his fellow gangsters double-crosses him on a debt-collection job, Iron wakes up three months later with a price on his head, a cybernetic arm and an unlikely ally– Angel, the virginal daughter of the debtor he was supposed to collect from. Together, they will have to find a way to pay Iron’s debt to The Syndicate and avenge Angel’s father, even as every bounty hunter in town starts hunting for them.
The story behind The Iron Saint is as interesting, if not so action-packed, as the story within the comic itself. Originally published in 2007 as a four-issue mini-series called Iron And The Maiden, the book was beset by troubles almost immediately as the band Iron Maiden threatened legal action over the title It was also during this time the creators at Top Cow Productions suffered the loss of a great artist and a greater friend – Michael Turner. Beloved by both his colleagues and his fans, Turner’s passing is noted by author Jason Rubin in his heart-felt introduction, where he also relays the story of the lawsuit and other details that offer a brief but fascinating look at how the comic industry functions behind the scenes. Michael Turner fans might be interested to know that the cover gallery at the end of this volume contains some of Turner’s last work before his untimely death; including the only comic cover he ever colored himself.
This cover gallery itself is worth the price of the book, boasting pieces by not just Michael Turner but artists such as Jim Lee, Chris Bachalo and Joe Madureira. Interestingly, Madureira did the initial character designs for this series and the main book art by Francis Manapul and Joel Gomez greatly resemble Madureira’s work on Battle Chasers, with lots of big men with big weapons. Most of the male characters are at least twice the size of the women and Iron looms most impressively over his Angel. But Manapul and Gomez are somewhat more grounded in reality than the more mangaesque Madureira, despite a number of characters having gravity-defying anime hair.
Fans of Film Noir and Steampunk will each find a lot to like about The Iron Saint. However, librarians would be well advised to shelve this volume in the same section where they keep Frank Miller’s Sin City books. There is one character, Mushmouth, whose manner of speech involves quite a few run-together and misspelled curse words, including the dreaded f dash dash dash word. While there is no outright nudity, there are several scenes set in a strip club, where Angel takes a job as a dancer so as to spy on The Syndicate. There’s also more than a few depictions of women wearing pasties that are close enough to topless to make this book inappropriate for most young adult graphic novel collections.