In Review: Monstro Mechanica #3

The adventures of this device and its handlers is fun reading.

The cover: Leonardo da Vinci stands besides his apprentice Isabel. He adjusts his gloves and gives the reader a wry look. She is looking to her right as something has caught her interest. These two figures wouldn’t stick out in a crowd, but in this book they are responsible for the ferocious title character. This cover by Chris Evenhuis and Sjan Weijers looks neat, with both characters good and the background of the duomo equally impressive. The colors are appropriate to capture a dated/aged look, but are a little bland for a cover that needs to stick out against other titles. Overall grade: B+

The story: The seige has ended against Volterra and the victors, led by da Vinci and Nicco Machiavelli, make their way in. Alessandro is happy that they’ve won, but his joy is not welcomed by the inventor. “When did self-importance cease to be a vice? When did we forget that we are all merely part of a greater whole?” His comments bring Alessandro down, but aren’t enough to silence Machiavelli who realizes that he is upset because he hasn’t received word about his apprentice Isabel. “I wouldn’t worry. Her guardian is the size of three mercenaries. And never grows demoralized.” The famous inventor looks away thinking, “No…no, it does not.” Paul Allor then moves to the machine, which was trapped under several large pieces of debris last issue. A woman named Ana stands close to the device, wondering what it is. A man who knows her takes her by the shoulders to see that she is okay, which causes an unexpected reaction from the machine. Why the automaton is doing this is set momentarily aside as the story moves to Isabel, who’s staring down the dagger that Riario has pulled on her. This man is without question the most vile character in this series’ short history and he quickly proves himself to be so. Some time later, things within the conquered city have gone south, with chaos on the streets. This is a terrific way to raise the tension regarding Isabel, whose fate is revealed, as well as several other women, on Page 12. Where she ends up is interesting and the scene between her and the machine on 14 is a wonderful throwback to a page from the previous issue. The machine is unintentionally given a new mission and someone of importance sees the creature in action. Just as the reader thinks everyone is out of the woods, the final two pages show that things are just getting started. This is has plenty of action with engaging dialogue from all its characters. Overall grade: A

The art: The first three pages are a wonderful step back into history from Chris Evenhuis as da Vinci, Machiavelli, Alessandro, and the other victors make their way into Volterra. The entrance through the gates in the second panel has no text and is the perfect visual to show these men as the victors. The bottom panel on the page establishes the three main characters for the next two pages, with Allesandro and da Vinci’s demeanors easily established without consulting the text. The first two panels on Page 2, the last two panels on the same page, and the final four on 4 show some excellent movement from the characters. The point of view is essentially the same, but the slight movements of the individuals in the panels accentuate the dialogue perfectly. Page 4 is the a full-paged splash that shows the machine in a dire situation. Evenhuis again shows some excellent movement, this time between the first three panels on 5. Every panel with Riario has him moving fluidly, with a surprising gesture on 7. The four panels on 12 are outstanding. The use of smoke is great and the goat is a fantastic visual punchline. Also funny is the final panel on 13, with the expressions of each character spot on. My favorite panel of the book is the final one on 15, with the pose of the machine outstanding. There’s no text on all of 18 and it’s a sensational action page with four panels showing characters in combat. The wide eyed look on Isabel in the closing panel on Page 19 is a fantastic precursor to the book’s final illustration. I love the combination of the fantastic among the classic. Overall grade: A  

The colors: Sjan Weijers’s work provides an excellent tone for this book. The opening castle is a pale lime green, the people primarily colored in violet. This makes their entrance into Voterra seem very calm, which it is. With a turn of the page the characters’ flesh get a little brighter, drawing attention to them, but notice how Machiavelli has shade covering his face constantly or just below his eyes, giving him a sinister touch. The largest character on Page 5 goes red and looks incredible sinister once in action, making the actions of this individual questionable. Riario is clad in white, going completely against the color of his soul. When a reunion commences on 13 light greens are employed to make this moment rightfully soothing. When the action goes fierce, so do the colors which become a strong crimson, punctuated by occasional blacks and spots of white. The final page perfectly highlights the title character with white behind it, surrounded by ghostly pale violets. Perfect work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Not only the writer, Paul Allor is also the book’s letterer and is to be congratulated for using an element of lettering that’s often ignored in comics: the lower case letter! This makes the dialogue seem antiquated, which is perfect for the era in which this story takes place. There are only two sounds in this book, which is fine, but I would have preferred to see more in the fights that punctuate the book’s ending. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Chaos in the city and the machine on the loose! Who will survive? The adventures of this device and its handlers is fun reading. If only history showed such a device to be true. Overall grade: A

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Monstro-Mechanica-3/digital-comic/607888

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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