In Review: Lady Mechanika: Sangre #2

This is one of the finest comic books published. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Four to find for this second issue. The A cover by Joe Benitez & Beth Sotelo is a lavish frontpiece, but then when aren’t these covers elaborate? The title character is facing the reader with her head turned to the left. She has on a dark violet cloak, matching corset, a large brass belt, and gray pants composed of vertical stripes. She’s atop a pillar covered in brown vines. She holds a gorgeous pistol in her right hand and holds it up and ready. The color are dark, but every element of her and her garb can be clearly seen. Behind her the cloudy sky is white, allowing her face to instantly capture the reader’s focus. This is a beautiful cover. Brian Ching & Sotelo have created a moody B cover. Mechanika stands facing the reader with her right hand on her hip. She’s opened her black jacket to slowly pull her pistol from her waist. Her short black hair is blowing to the right and she squints as she stares. She has on a dark gray corset with matching pants. She’s on a dark gray background that is blue directly behind her. I grabbed this cover because it’s so different for this character. The C cover, the Retailer Incentive, is by Benitez and is the same as the A but is only the pencils. The text at the top is in a light blue. Very cool. The final cover, the D, the San Diego Comic-Con edition, is by Benitez & Sotelo and has Mechanika in Mayan dress. She’s wearing an elaborate feathered headdress, emerald jewelry around her neck, upper arm, and around her waist, a simple white appropriate for the time period dress, and wields a vicious looking club. Her mechanical arms are exposed, giving her an even harsher look. Behind her is one of Benitez’s killer circular constructions, but it’s been slightly modified with Mayan features. The entire image is on a brown stone background. The coloring is exceptional, with her headdress and jewelry stunning. This is spectacular. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A, and D A+

The story: This was an amazing story. Written by M.M. Chen & Joe Benitez the story opens, surprisingly back in Anahuac City, 500 years ago. The mother and two children that went into hiding are relieved to see Tecuani appear, even though he’s covered in blood. He’s come to save his wife and children from the “demons” that have killed everyone else. He says they have to go to the capital to warn the emperor of what’s occurred. They make their way across a rickety bridge and are confronted by one of the demons. Something shocking happens. In the present, it is day and Mechanika has brought Don Pedro and his major domo to the severed head of the young man in the woods. This leads Mechanika to interview a member of the clergy which in turn leads her to go to the University of Salmanca, where she learns something surprising on Page 10. More information comes from another lead on 11, which has her going to a location on 13. It’s here that the book kicks into overdrive. The location becomes an extended horror show resulting in a stunning reveal on the final page. The only negative I can give this story is that I need to know what happens next — NOW! The prologue is thrilling and emotional. The main story emphasizes Mechanika’s detective skills — which is missing in most super powered comics, introducing several new characters and suspects, before moving to the most intense action scene involving the most characters I’ve seen since I started following this character. This was outstanding. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: The main story is illustrated by Brian Ching and Prologue pencils are by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel with digital inks on the Prologue by Studio J-13. This book looks exceptional. The first page has a wonderful image of Tecuani reaching to assist his family from their hiding place with the reader seeing him from the family’s perspective. When the family goes outside the settings are phenomenal as they make their way through the jungles. The action on Page 5 is graphic, but only a taste of what’s to come by the book’s conclusion. The next four pages have Mechanika interviewing three people and Ching makes these conversations interesting by moving the point of view about often and pulling in tightly — dramatically — when something of importance is brought up. The University of Salamanca’s exteriors are only shown in one small panel, but it tells the reader so much about this establishment. The third panel on Page 10 introduces several new characters in an elaborate setting and it looks so amazing. The character introduced on 13 is the perfect precursor to what Mechanika will discover on the next few pages. The next seven pages have some spectacular grisly action with Mechanika seemingly out of her element. I gasped at what Ching created. I was taken back at how speedy the action was, yet I had to keep going to see if I could discover what was making all these shocks occur. Pages 18 and 19 have two triangle shaped panels that show the antagonist clearly for the first time and this character looks so cool. As I was enjoying this individual’s design, the action in the penultimate panel on 19 brought me back to reality that this character is a cold-blooded killer. The final page is a full-paged splash that made me gasp at the reveal. WOW! That is a visual to make every reader scream for the immediate continuation of the story. Overall grade: A+

The colors: If you’ve ever read a Lady Mechanika book, you’ve noticed the incredible details done with borders around the panels. The Prologue has these as well, but colorist Beth Sotelo gives them a distinct Mayan flavor with reds and greens, as opposed to the gold and silver of the present. Given the lack of lighting in the Prologue, Sotelo could have made things much darker than necessary, but she keeps the visuals perceivable by cheating every so slightly with reality by keeping things just bright enough. The second panel on the first page shows her immense skills in coloring a page. Look how she continues to create the night, but keep things visible as the family makes their trek. When the story moves to the present on the sixth page the conversation has a definite Gothic tone due to the foggy background, making the conversation classical. The colors of the setting on 6 and 7 are fantastic in oranges. The browns at the university are appropriate and not overwhelming. The final setting is dark, but, again, no so dark as to lose the visuals. Reds and oranges dominate in the closing pages and they are awesome. Sotelo can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Michael Heisler creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, whispered text, and the three word tease for next issue. The Prologue uses all caps for a bold introduction to the setting, while the locales set in the present only have a capitalized bold first letter on the first word. All stand out well to lead the reader smoothly into the story. There’s a lot of dialogue, especially during the interviews, but Heisler places the text without overpowering the visuals. A sign of a smart letterer! There are some massive yells in the Prologue and the final pages. They leap off the page, increasing the tension from the actions. The whispered text is slightly smaller than the normal dialogue and is spoken by an unnamed character begging for mercy. It’s perfect, as is all of Heisler’s work on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is one of the finest comic books published. The story is smart and exciting, the artwork is superb, the colors are perfection, and the lettering enhanced the tale. You cannot find a better book on the market than Lady Mechanika. The action is intense and graphic, with the final page’s reveal a shocker. You need Lady Mechanika: Sangre! Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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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