Created, Written and Drawn by Joe Benitez
Colors by Peter Steigerwald
I love a heroine who, within five pages, can show both deep compassion and a wicked left hook. Aspen comic’s highly anticipated steampunk comic Lady Mechanika No. 1 hit the shelves yesterday, December 8. So far the book has met, exceeded and left my expectations in the dust far behind it.
Issue 0 came out in October and was so popular a second printing was necessary to keep up with the demand. In this prelude, we meet Lady Mechanika. She is a hard, aloof woman with a killer wit and an even more killer talent with a gun. But Joe Benitez, the author of Lady Mechanika, shows the reader from the very beginning that this heroine isn’t going to be placed into any stereotypical character boxes as, from the get go, we are able to feel her broad array of emotions right along with her: anger, empathy, desperation, and unwavering determination.
The plot is rapidly moving forward, dropping hints and clues as to where this series will be taking its readers. Lady Mechanika is on a search for her past. She is best known for being the woman with mechanical parts who hunts things that go bump in the night. She has no idea who her “maker” was, but she would do anything to find out just where her mechanical arms and legs came from and how it ended up that her body was infused with this metal. Admittedly the plot has a slight Wolverine story line feel to it, but with a completely new twist. I have a feeling that the plot will only grow in originality as time passes.
In these first two issues Mechanika comes across two others who are like her – living beings with the metal parts of machines infused into them. Unfortunately she will not be able to get information out of either of these two mysterious creatures. But she knows they are all connected somehow.
In typical steampunk fashion Lady Mechanika takes place in 19th century England. The culture of steampunk shines through with its focus on the technology of machines within this antiquated society. Joe Benitez blew my socks off with not only the writing of the story, but with his amazingly beautiful artwork. Every picture is both intricate and full of emotion, enhanced by Peter Steigerwald’s thrilling use of color. If nothing else Benitez should consider a career in fashion design. Mechanika’s outfits positively make a girl drool! This is one of those books you could justify buying specifically and exclusively for the art.
If I have to point out a flaw it would be that this book is not an easy read, especially for any steampunk fans that do not usually read comics, but are drawn to it by the subject matter and its pure elegance. Book No. 1 was especially hard to follow. Having to flip back several times to figure out what is going on gets rather annoying. That being said, I will in no way let that confusion deter me from reading or recommending this series. The alliance of steampunk and comics is a brilliant idea. The steampunk genre has been growing in popularity in both books and film. The very nature of it is so visual in a uniquely beautiful way that comics seem like a perfect medium for these stories.
We at Lytherus will be continuing to eagerly watch the growing trend of steampunk. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what exactly this genre is about, stay tuned for a written guide to steampunk which will be published here within the next few days.
Reviewed by Jackie Krah