Lets get a few things straight here.
So how did I get from Marvel Zombie to Distinguished Competition?
It's pretty simple really. A friend of mine had some X-Men comics. I read them, then collected them, then bought New Mutants, which lead me to X-Force, which featured Deadpool, who got his own series done by Joe Kelly...
...whose name caught my eye on the cover of Steampunk #1. I picked it up, and had no bloody idea what the heck was going on!
Now, it's not too unusual to pick up X-Men 572, part 15 of the 28 part Lethal Vengeance Crossover, and see that Marrow is being mindcontrolled by Storm, who has the powers of Rogue, caused by a mind-meld in issue 455, when Professor X, who had recently returned from the grave, after absorbing the powers of... etc, etc. I mean, that serves you right for not keeping up.
But being lost in the first issue? What's that about? We don't read comics to challenge our intellect, do we? It's not about complexity, and character development, historical anachronisms, confused motivations, neologisms, prevarication, and an unfolding storyline which requires a level more than superficiality.
Steampunk can make your head hurt. The art is challenging, the story gives you the uncomfortable feeling that things are going on that Kelly hasn't told you about. Hey, Howard Mackie never did that! What's going on here? The story jumps around without warning you first, draws conclusions before presenting postulates, and refuses to concede to the lowest common denominator.
Steampunk is often late. It is irreverant, and unapologetic. There is no hint of any editorial control. It can't decide if it's a love story or an adventure - intellectual or merely entertaining - science fiction or history. Maybe I've just been a Marvel Zombie too long, but to me, this was (and is) a real eye-opener.
Maybe it's worth a look, if you can find a copy at your local comic store.
[Ed - Actually, those diptards at WildStorm cancelled this title after 12 issues. There were 6 issues left to complete the story, but they canned it anyhow. The lesson is, WildStorm sucks.]