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Larry Blamire's Steam Wars: Head of Steam

The three part story that opened up 'Larry Blamire's Steam Wars' universe comes to a close with the third issue of the comic series.

By Frank WhitePublished 7 years ago 5 min read

Bringing Larry Blamire's tale to life through the amazing medium of comic books was an important experience for me. I had a chance to work with Larry directly and get to know a universe only creatives like Larry can imagine in their minds. Involving Tyler Kirkham in the mix gave me an opportunity to work with someone whose skills have been honed at one of the great iconic comic book empires, DC Comics.

Since I was a kid I loved to draw. I went through pads and magic markers the way my friends (who were into sports) went through baseball cards. I created whole worlds in my head – backstories and all. But that was a long time ago, and my imagined super heroes never made it beyond my small house in upstate NY. Ultimately, I was not that kind of a creator. But as an adult ,after many years of creating businesses, I have the privilege to work with amazing people and finally go back to my bucket list. With my final walk through of Larry Blamire's series, I put a check in the box.


Again in a cell with Tunney and Duff who don’t yet know each other, nor do we know why they’re there. In this story Tunney flashes back on the events that brought him to the brig, these oh too familiar surroundings. He was assigned to whip the crew of a shiny new goliath class rig the Illinois. He puts them through the paces and is particularly concerned about a fresh young pup of a pilot. He brings this to the attention of the spit-n-polish captain who unfortunately turns out to have a strong dislike of gunnery sergeants. It’s on.

They are assigned escort duty along with two other rigs, guarding a train loaded with valuable condensed coal that the Prussians would love to get their hands on. The other two rigs are the smaller ajax class Seattle and Atlanta commanded by old Captain Henry and young Captain Trask respectively. Tunney lets his young gunner’s mate Evans (another newbie) that he’s not crazy about Major Pearson’s formation, having the two smaller rigs up ahead of the train which he feels is a strategic mistake.

The arrogant Pearson has his young pilot Webber give Tunney a hard time below in the gunport, with arbitrary drills. Finally the stubborn Tunney on report and confined to the magazine.

The trek goes peaceably until the train enters a long stretch surrounded by hills dense with trees; perfect for an ambush. But Pearson listens to no one. Suddenly a shot explodes from the woods and the head of the Atlanta is gone. Roaring into view: a Prussian goliath rig and massive königskohletender, Prussia’s largest walking coal carrier. In command, Hauptmann Wilhelm Kreiber of the Königlich Preussische Dampftruppen who gives the ultimatum: surrender the coal or die.

Of course, without waiting for orders from Pearson Tunney fires on the Prussian. Seeing that, Captain Henry in the Seattle thinks that’s the official order and fires on the run. Meanwhile the train, unable to stop, plows into the toppling Atlanta. In the Van Buren, the young pilot Webber freezes up, with Major Pearson trying to take over. The Prussian big gun fire and takes out the Van Buren’s head-gunner. Tunney sees they’re walking right towards the wreckage of the Atlanta and quickly climbs up top into the headcab where he knocks out Major Pearson and takes over. Webber starts to get a grip, and up from below comes Africa-American stoker Combs (also in “A Good Left Arm”). He indicated to Tunney earlier he’d like a shot at gunner. Tunney tells him to go for it and Combs climbs up top, straps himself in and starts firing the Maxim machine gun.

The Seattle is now hit, putting it out of commission, and the Prussian has moved off to take cover in the tall trees. Seeing this, Tunney orders his gun to fire on the Prussian coal tender and he does to everyone’s surprise. The Prussian captain doesn’t want to lose the tender and orders them to fire from hiding. They do, knocking the Van Buren out of commission. He orders his marine boarding party to attack and they pour out to board the American rig. But they find it empty.

Tunney and surviving crew hide in the woods and regroup. They decide to take the coal tender with what limited means they have. Tunney leads a ragtag group and they scale the tender, taking out guards. Soon they’re in control and the Prussian captain sends marines over. A desperate fight ensues. Evans takes the tender’s watchtower but is killed doing so. Tunney, Combs and Webber manage to get the tender walking, right towards the Prussian goliath rig. They are about to plow it over when the Prussian Captain Kreiber wisely calls a halt. Better to lose a battle--and some coal--than a goliath rig and a giant coal tender.

As the Prussians depart, Tunney, knowing he’s headed for court-martial, recommends Combs’ advancement from stoker to gunner. But the recovered Major Pearson slaps that down, saying some day there may be an all-black rig crew, but until then he’s got tons of coal to move.

The young pilot Webber visits Tunney in his cell to see if he needs anything. Tunney says he’s had it with the Steam Force--this time he’s out for good.


About the Creator

Frank White

New Yorker in his forties. His counsel is sought by many, offered to few. Traveled the world in search of answers, but found more questions.

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