Steel Fist – Time Out for Sabotage (1945 comic) review…

Steel Fist – Time Out for Sabotage (1945 comic) review after the break…

Steel Fist – Time Out for Sabotage (1945 comic) review…

I don’t know why I review these short comic book stories except that they are relatively fast to read and, thus, fairly quick to write a review as well. I suppose that I also review them to spot all the areas where I would deviate from the story for the sake of the story’s integrity and entertainment value or lack thereof.

“Steel Fist” is yet another nearly anonymous super hero lost in mists of time and while there is no pronounced story title, the words “Time Out for Sabotage” are printed in bold at the end of story’s introduction, so I’ll take those words as the title. Printed in 1945, the story is fairly topical for it’s time, featuring a World War II-related story line featuring Nazi Germany.

The story is a 6-page effort that falls into all the predictable traps that a short comic book story could possibly fall into. In the story, our hero investigates a series of war production factory explosions. After two brief struggles against the saboteurs ends in a stalemate and being trapped, our hero manages to free himself and prevent another factory from being destroyed while capturing the saboteurs. The end.

If someone had wanted to capture the cheap, chintzy feel of these short comic book stories, they would have to elevate (degrade?) their efforts to match the results of “Time Out for Sabotage.” Where to begin? Why not start with our hero, Steel Fist. What is Steel Fist’s super powers besides… I don’t know… Nothing? With a name like “Steel Fist,” you’d think he’d have… steel fists? Maybe not literally “fists made of steel” but perhaps his fists are indestructible? He can punch really, really hard? Based on the comic, he’s just an ordinary man in a costume which, in modern times, is rather creepy.

Ignoring the fact that there’s no origin story (or explanation) because it is only a 6-page comic book story, another vast deficiency are the villains. I have no problem that the villains are your typical Nazi sympathizers or saboteurs or however they want to call themselves. The villains have a little bit of creativity in how they destroy the war factories (dynamite triggered by the mechanical time-clocks of the time) but that’s it… That’s their whole strategy – Wait for a time clock to fail, sabotage the time clock and then leave. Here’s a pro-tip: If your sabotage strategy relies upon waiting for a clock to fail before you can sabotage it… You need a better strategy. Also, just how often did time clocks in the 1940’s fail? All the time? Once per week?

So what, though, if Steel Fist is just a name and the villains are “beer league” saboteurs… A superhero is more then just a person with super powers. A superhero should also be competent… Which Steel Fist isn’t. At all. Not even a little bit. In his first confrontation with the saboteurs, Steel Fist is felled by… a brick. A brick that fell. Not a lot of bricks, not an entire brick wall falling on top of him or multiple bricks falling on top of him all at once or even a brick thrown at him. Brick falls, strikes Steel fist in the head… Fight over. Here’s another pro-tip: Even soldiers back in World War II had helmets. Helmets that, admittedly, would not blunt the entire force of a brick falling onto their heads but would at least cushion the impact somewhat. In Steel Fist’s second confrontation with the saboteurs, he is felled by… A swung wrench to the head. Do you see a pattern here yet? It’s not like he’s fighting another superhero, he’s fighting ordinary mortals. And losing. Badly.

OK… You have an ordinary super hero who, quite frankly, is just an ordinary man in a costume, you have garden variety villains who are leisurely going about their plans being villains… At least you have a competent story, right? No. At 6 pages in length, there is hardly any story at all. There is no detective work, no “Hey… All of these factories are exploding just as people are punching out at work” or, “Hey… All these factories have their time clocks serviced by these guys.” Steel Fist just happens upon one of the saboteurs later on by chance. That’s all the detective work that is done.

I could go on about this story, about how the villains capture Steel Fist but don’t kill him and not only don’t kill him but explain their entire plan to Steel Fist in nauseating detail, allowing Steel Fist to not only escape but thwart the next factory explosion. Yet this comic story speaks for itself why Steel Fist is not mentioned in the same breath as Superman or Batman or Spiderman or… Or anyone else for that matter.

If you want to create a great comic book story, there are plenty of them out there. If you want to create a truly exceptional bad comic book story… Steel Fist’s “Time Out for Sabotage” may be of interest to you.

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