In Review: Lady Mechanika: The Clockwork Assassin #1

This is a book that deserves immense praise. Storytelling at its finest.

The covers: Seven different covers for fans to find on this initial outing. The A cover is by Joe Benitez and Beth Sotelo has the antagonist of this series with her back to the reader, though slightly turned as she releases the long blade that’s concealed along her forearm. She’s in a circular bracelet that could serve a machine as well as a person. Neat introduction to the character, though it is really darkly colored. The B is also by Benitez with the colors by Peter Steigerwald. This is the cover I purchased and it shows the heroine dressed for a funeral. There’s a circular construction behind her as well, though it looks much harsher due to the spikes on its left and right. This was colored more lightly than the A and that’s why I picked this one up. The C features the pencils to the B cover, with the text at the top in light blue. This was a beautiful variant and I would have purchased it had I seen it. Benitez and colorist Mike Garcia are responsible for the D which features Mechanika again in funeral dress, though only shown from the mid-calf up. She looks terrific, even with her veil down and the colors are lightest yet. The Denver Comic Con cover, limited to 250 copies, is the E, by Benitez and Sotelo, shows the protagonist in her evening wear as shown on the last four pages of this issue. Her mechanical limbs are easily seen, as is the gun she’s sporting in her right hand. With her porcelain skin and her white next-to-nothings, Mechanika is a stand out figure on this musty violet background. There’s also a San Diego Comic-Con Edition, the F, which has the same art as the E, with the colors by Sotelo different. Again, very cool. The final cover, the G, is by Miguel Mercado showing Mechanika sitting in a leather chair looking toward her left. Beautiful cover, but it’s really dark. Overall grades: A B+, B A, C A+, D A, E A, F A, and G B-

The story: Benin O’Meara bids goodnight to co-worker Yaromir Kovalyav as he leaves his friend at Athena Industries. He begins the lonely walk home singing a song to himself, stopping to tip his hat to a woman on the street. Dressed in black, wearing a fashionable top hat, and goggles, no flesh from this woman is visible. As he bends down, a blade springs from the sleeve of her right arm. She cuts O’Meara in half at the waist. Her deed complete, she returns the blade to her sleeve and makes her way down the deserted street. A few days later, after the funeral of O’Meara, Lady Mechanika comes upon Archibald “Archie” Lewis, there to mourn the passing of his friend. Their conversation is interrupted by Inspector Singh, who informs them of how O’Meara was killed. His information is ended just as a few of Lewis’s former co-workers greet the man. Also making an appearance is the owner of Athena Industries, Ms. Gwendolyn Cain, as well as four shrouded handmaidens who act more like bodyguards. This scene at the graveyard has a dramatic ending, which leads to three characters having a discussion which ends particularly poorly for one man. There’s a two page nightmare sequence where writer Joe Benitez, based on a story conceived by him and M.M. Chen, has Mechanika’s fears come to life. The final four pages has her taking in a friend for the night, who’s followed by someone who’s not there for a friendly visit. The mystery of who’s killing who and why is introduced and it’s intriguing. Benitez and Chen have several possibilities for the killer and I’m interested to see where this is going. Overall grade: A

The art: This is a staggering book to take in. Artist Joe Benitez and Martin Moniel are the book’s pencilers, with digital inks done by Studio J-13. The panels are often outlined in gears, pipes, and wires, reinforcing the Steampunk flavor of the book. The first page is practically a full-page splash showing Yaromir working on a monstrous tripod robot. It looks spectacular, but is only window dressing for the story. Page 2 shows O’Meara’s long descent from his workroom to the street and it brings an epic scale to the book by showing the interior of this one building. The top of 3 shows the Athena Industries building from the outside and it’s fantastic. The Clockwork Assassin appears fully on 4 and she is a frightful creation, clothed in black and a master of her blades. Lady Mechanika’s clothing is wonderfully elaborate at the funeral and would give Masterpiece Theater a run for its money for detail. One attendee at the funeral is in a fantastic vehicle that, while only shown in two panels, is amazing. The first full-page splash is Gwendolyn Cain’s debut and she oozes with power, while her handmaidens are dark angels that are within a foot of her at all times, less someone inadvertently rushes her. A pub is the setting for three pages and it’s full of the ornamentation and woodwork one would expect of such an establishment. The nightmare sequence is fantastic with it capturing a sensational sense of motion. The final four pages have Mechanika wearing little, having woken from bed, and her artificial limbs are as eye catching as the rest of her figure. This is an incredible well drawn book whose visuals perfectly capture the essence of Steampunk. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Given the genre of Steampunk, bright colors aren’t often used. This is the case for Beth Sotelo’s work on this book, but don’t dare think that she creates a monotone color scheme for this issue. The first page wonderfully uses yellows for the light source to highlight what Yaromir is working on. Once outside Athena Industries, the evening overtakes O’Meara. Sotelo colors the page to give it a night flavor, but doesn’t blacken the panels to make any part of the visuals vanish; every part of the art can be clearly seen. One really neat element is that when the mechanical borders are used, Sotelo colors them in dirty bronze, aging them, yet making them stand out. The funeral scene has her using a brighter gray for the sky which keeps the solemnity of the gathering, but allows the characters themselves to be brighter. Darkness returns with Cain’s entrance and it’s fantastic. Though she’s clad only in black, every tuck and fold of her clothes are seen. The interior of the pub has an excellent use of browns for all the woodwork involved. The brightest two pages of the book is the nightmare sequence which is given several red shades for a Hellish tone. Mechanika’s quarters are brighter than the other locations of the book, but they maintain the prim and proper colors of this society. Sotelo solidifies the genre of this comic and increases the visuals’ appeal. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Michael Heisler creates scene settings and dialogue (the same font), O’Meara’s song, sounds, the text during the nightmare sequence, and the tease for next issue. I do wish that the scene settings and the dialogue had been differentiated from each by the design of the fonts, rather than the color and shape of their balloons, but everything else he does for this book looks fine. I like that O’Meara’s song has a disjointed text and that the dialogue for the nightmare is elongated, making it frightening. Plus, the sounds that Heisler creates are very strong, which has me looking forward to what else he’ll bring to future fights. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This is my first read of Lady Mechanika’s exploits and, based on this issue, I need to seek out the previous stories. The mystery is good, the characters are interesting, and the visuals are the envy of other books. This is a book that deserves immense praise. Storytelling at its finest. Recommended. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to http://www.joebenitez.com/?product=lady-mechanika-the-clockwork-assassin-1-cover-b-pre-order

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Lady-Mechanika-The-Clockwork-Assassin-1/digital-comic/541291?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see six of the covers go to my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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