In Review: Lady Mechanika: La Belle Dame Sans Merci #2

A must-buy for every comic reader.

The covers: Nine different covers to track down, with each so good no need to have a muse inspire you to get them all! The A cover is by Joe Benitez and Beth Sotelo. Lady Mechanika has on a cape and hood in addition to her ornate top and stipped slacks. She’s pointing a Steampunk gun to her lower right, the tip of the weapon powering up. She’s twisting her body to her right, as if she wasn’t expecting to see a foe so close. The character looks stunning and the coloring is incredible. Behind her is a gold metallic circle that’s at an angle that increases the Steampunk flavor of this frontpiece. The B cover by Benitez and Peter Steigerwald is the cover I picked up because it’s gorgeous. This has Mechanika in a long white dress, her hands at her side, with a slight breeze blowing back her garment and her hair. The look of bliss on her face is terrific. Her mechanical arms look fantastic in black, utterly contrasting with her sweeping clothes and the flowers in her hair. Behind her is a circle of metal that resembles a crown before one’s eye finds it trailing down on the left as strands that intertwine. The blue background that becomes a sunset the further one looks down is stellar. The Retailer Incentive Edition is the C cover by Benitez. This is the A cover’s pencils. If one loves Benitez’s art — and who doesn’t? — this is one to pick up. D is the JoeBenitez.com Edition by Benitez and Sabine Rich. This features the evil Grimm that appeared last issue, knocking out Mechanika. She would be in profile, looking to the left, had she not turned slightly to look at the reader. Her red hair is being blown backward and her monstrous scythe covers the Lady in the title. Behind her is a circle of metal resembling a ring. She and the circle are on a royal dark violet. This is fantastic! E is the Dragon Con Edition by Benitez, Martin Montiel, and Rich. I couldn’t find a large image of this online, so I’m really squinting to make out this edition. Shown in profile, Mechanika is walking to her right. She looks to be wearing clothing that would be more suitable to a fight than the flowing dresses she’s worn on other colors. Behind her is a golden dragon whose tail loops to make the more typical metallic circles. This looks nice. Mechanika is in the same pose but wearing a different outfit on the F cover which is the Convention Edition by Benitez, Montiel, and Rich. Her outfit again looks suited for combat, but is gray and a little bulky. The dragon in the background has been replaced with an ornate clock. This, too, looks nice. There are also two Special Edition Metal Covers, the G and H covers, by Jamie Tyndall. I couldn’t find images of these online, so good luck, collectors! The S cover is the Blank Sketch Edition that features the title and credits at the top and a blank white cover that allows one to get a one of a kind unique sketch from their favorite artist or to get this signed by the creative team. I love this idea for a cover, but on its own it’s not much. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C A, D A+, E A-, F A-, and S C

The story: Last issue Lady Mechanika was knocked out by Grimm and her reapers. The protagonist is carried out of the Blythe House into a souped up hearse. Grimm goes to sit in the front while her men place their prey in a coffin for safe keeping. Luckily Mechanika wakes up and knocks one of the men out of the moving vehicle. A blast of electricity from a gun hits Mechanika in her wrist which bears a device that absorbs the energy and allows her to fight the Grimm when the villain leaps into the cab. The fight is brief, but good, with a victor left undecided. After the battle, Mechanika has no choice but to go to the closest home she knows and she meets with a new character that seems to be causing problems for a friend. This friend is indifferent to what’s happened to Mechanika and lashes out at her verbally when she interrupts his work. This is a surprising moment, given the history between this pair. After Mechanika leaves the house, something supernatural seems to occur, but what’s happening is left unexplained for a future issue. A few days later Mechanika goes to police headquarters to catch up with Inspector Singh and a week after this something horrible happens to her former friend, requiring she intervene. The penultimate page has a massive surprise. Outside of the opening pages, there isn’t a lot of action of this issue from M.M. Chen and Joe Benitez in this issue, but what is given are plenty of clues for Mechanika to realize all is not right with her former partner. Where this story is going I couldn’t predict. What I can say is that I’ll be anxious for all the characters until the next, and final, installment comes out. Overall grade: A+

The art: From the first page a reader knows this book is going to look incredible. The pencils for this book are by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel with digital inks by Studio J-13. A tight close up of Mechanika shows her conscious and being carried. The large panel on the page reintroduces Grimm who is amazing looking in a black outfit with white trim that gives her a skeletal appearance. She and her cronies wear skull masks that covers the bottom of their faces from the bridge of their noses down. She also has long red hair to make her really pop on the page. Behind her is the creepy Blythe House and two of her men carrying the heroine. A tiny panel on the page shows a device on Mechanika’s wrist glowing. This panel and the first have elaborate borders composed of metal bolds and gears to really make them pop on the page. This motif is repeated throughout the book. The second page shows Mechanika starting to open her eyes, the vehicle moving, and her knocking one man out of the vehicle. She’s beaten down by the other man still in the cab with her and the panel showing him standing above her on Page 3 is full of tremendous energy. I like that when the action in this series kicks in the panels become slightly titled, as they are at the bottom of this page, as Mechanika gets her hand on a gun. The electricity blasted about on the fourth page is epic, but the Grimm’s leap at the bottom of the page is flat out awesomeness. Mechanika takes a lot of hits from the villain on 5 and it’s amazing looking. Each hit is easy to follow, even with the skewed panels that increase the speed of the action. The next page has some great movement, especially those done by the title character in the last four panels. The home that Mechanika goes to is superbly detailed and the characters that inhabit look fantastic. When one character’s anger rises the panels begin to tilt, showing the reader visually that they are just as intense as the violence that occurred earlier. The visuals on 13 further the story as much as the text. The scenes in Singh’s office aren’t as lavish as the previous setting, but the details with the clippings on the wall and the furniture make it feel just as real. The new outfit donned by Mechanika on 17 is outstanding and what she’s looking at in the second panel has me hoping to see more of these items. Page 22 is a full-paged splash and it’s beautiful. This book looks phenomenal. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Beth Sotelo is also doing a sensational job on this book. The first page uses gold and brass for the bolts that wrap around two of the panels and the device that’s around Mechanika’s head and neck. Grimm is an instant eye catcher for her bold whites on black and her crimson hair. When Mechanika opens her eyes they are bright red since they are electronic. The sounds are bright in yellows and reds and light greens, allowing them to stand out against the highly detailed art. The energy flying about on 4 is spectacular. The browns that are used in the house the protagonist visits are wonderful, dating this home and time period instantly. The light colors used on the person that opens the door to Mechanika have her stand apart from the setting and the other characters. When the friend loses his temper the background goes light, which has the reader focus on the character’s intensity. When Mechanika responds in anger her backgrounds go darker. A nice switch up. Returning from last issue are the violets for an energy transference that’s creepy. Violets, blues, and whites are absolutely magical on the penultimate page. Just fantastic! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, scene settings, and the tease for next issue are created by Michael Heisler. The scene settings receive the same font as the dialogue, save the first letter of each first word which is increased in size to have it stand out. This is fine, but an entirely different font would have been preferable. The sounds are magnificent in this issue with the fight scene full of several outstanding ones. Even the tease for next issue looks sumptuous. Overall grade: A

The final line: Suspicions continue to rise that someone is under another’s influence. The story features a terrific fight and plenty of clues for the hero to realize all is not right. The visuals are a knockout in every panel on every page. I defy anyone to find a book that looks as good as this. A must-buy for every comic reader. Overall grade: A

To purchase a print copy go to http://www.joebenitez.com/product/lady-mechanika-la-belle-dame-sans-merci-2-cover-a-sotelo/

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Lady-Mechanika-La-Belle-Dame-Sans-Merci-2/digital-comic/713169?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit 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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