Armagideon Time

“A 1990 Marvel comic about some teens who form a rock band” might sound like an ideal candidate for Nobody’s Favorites in theory, but — stupid title aside — Elaine Lee and Steve Leialoha’s Steeltown Rockers ended up winning me over with its goofy charm.

The six-issue limited series was a collaboration between Elaine Lee and Steve Leialoha, and centered a polyglot group of high schoolers hoping to swap the grim reality of living in a dying rustbelt town for some rock ‘n’ roll fantasies.

It’s out-and-out melodrama, but it’s melodrama with a heart.  Steeltown Rockers mave have taken a slightlier cartoony approach to serious issues — like alcoholism, drug abuse, and dysfunctional families — than the “Earth Stories” arc unfolding in Zot! at the time, but it also avoided the moments of painful earnestness that plague Scott McCloud’s influential, if dated, magnum opus.

The series  reminds me a lot of Degrassi Jr. High, back in the days before the franchise jettisoned any attempt at versimillitude in favor of a excremental Toronto 90210 approach.  That’s not a bad place to be in terms of young adult-themed funnybook, where works occupying the middle ground between “lurid explotation” and “sanitized fluff” are few and far between.

Steeltown Rockers is one of those comics that I can’t believe ever made it into print, but I’m happy it did…even though I cannot fathom what the hell a band from that era, with that line up could have possibly sounded like.

11 Responses to “Nobody Else’s Favorites: Nothing stands the pressure”

  1. Chris

    In 1990 I was a comic-reading high-schooler in a string of go-nowhere garage bands. This seems like the sort of book I would have devoured at the time, had I but known.

    I’ll need to track this one down.

  2. Tom Hartley

    Was this book set in the Marvel Universe? Is that why they sang songs about photon blasts? Or was it set in the “real world”, about a band of sci-fi/comics nerds?

  3. bitterandrew

    Tom: There was nothing to suggest that was the case. I assumed the superhero and mutant references in the songs were a case of editorial OCD.

  4. Duff Man

    Adora seems to quite the prude.

    And did you mean the recent Degrassi or the 80s one?

  5. bitterandrew

    The new Degrassi was fine up until they decided to give Emma a social disease.

  6. Tom Hartley

    Just as well that it wasn’t a Marvel Universe book. Nobody had to worry about a Dazzler guest appearance stinking up the joint.

  7. MrJM

    “I cannot fathom what the hell a band from that era, with that line up could have possibly sounded like.”

    Prince circa “Love Sexy”… I’d bet the farm on it.

    — MrJM

  8. Brimstone

    I gotta get this. love my Springsteen heartland rock. and love Monster Magnet singing about Ego, The Living Planet

  9. thatgirl

    as a Rust Belt kid that attempted to start my own terrible bands in high school, this totally warms my heart.

  10. LCB

    Read it, and it’s truly one of those under the radar titles that makes you want to recommend it because, melodrama aside Steeltown Rockers is a story with a heart and a pulse. I’ve enjoyed Elaine Lee’s books in the past, and I don’t know, maybe something about the text on the 1st issue cover, corny as it sounds: “Sometimes a small town band has to play a little louder to be heard”, struck a chord with me, coming from a small town that while far from dying had certainly seen much better days, and having a few failed attempts at starting a band under my belt during those awkward teens years…

  11. Dave

    Maybe this was set in an alternate New Universe or THE New Universe? The last issue has them playing at a X-Men look alike contest. And a reality away, the same contest is being nuked by Star Brand. Just an idea.

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