Writer: John McGuire
Penciller: Sheldon Mitchell
Inker: Rich Perrotta
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Khari J. Sampson
Editors: Tony Cade and Robert Jeffery III
Publisher: Terminus Media LLC
The Gilded Age is a series of stories created by John McGuire designed to be loosely connected via characters, but to be able to stand on their own as complete tales set in the same steampunk industrial-age setting. Magic and technology exist alongside one another. Societal tension between mechanically influenced and “pure” humans is growing. And autonomous life forms find their validity as living creatures in question.
The story is somewhat straightforward. There is a troupe of performers that the tale centers around, and a young woman member is coerced into helping the band’s magician find himself an artifact for a new trick. Everything is not what it seems, and she comes to regret the things that she learns from their little outing. It is a classic feeling sort of short story, but there are definite hints and clues along the way that help to build the universe that they exist in at large.
The art in The Gilded Age is solid. It is neither breathtaking, nor is it particularly flawed (apart from a panel where the leading lady attempts to do her impression of a chameleon). It is realistic line work and shading with a somewhat muted pallet of colors. The lines become rough at points, but not enough to distract from the story, which is typically what I use as my measure of “bad” art.
The Gilded Age is not a bad read, but it does not come off as compelling or engrossing either. I cannot say I would recommend it without someone asking for something in its specific (steampunk) genre, but I cannot in good conscience badmouth it either. I look forward to seeing if the other stand alone stories continue to build more intrigue.