In Review: Lady Mechanika: Sangre #1

You are missing out if you're not following this character's adventures.

The covers: Eight covers to collect for the first issue of this awesome series. The A cover is by Joe Benitez & Beth Sotelo featuring the title character dressed in an elaborate leather corset with shoulder and neck guards over a blue top. Her matching belt has several pouches and she has on tight black pants. She’s holding an elaborate mechanical crossbow up in her right hand and a wooden stake in her left held low. She looks to the right as if expecting trouble. She’s standing before one of Benitez’s circular constructs that’s on a beautiful dark blue patterned background. This is incredible. This might be blasphemy, but I chose to pick up the next frontpiece over the Benitez covers because it’s just so flippin’ cool. This B cover is Brian Ching & Beth Sotelo and has Mechanika facing the right in mid leap. Her knees are up and her arms are at right angles with a pistol in each hand. The look on her face is focused ire as she’s going to take a shot at the person she spies. I love the one strand of hair in her face, the pose, the clothes, and the spectacular red, orange, and yellow background. So powerful and so darned cool! The C is the Retalier Incentive cover by Joe Benitez that’s the same as the A cover, just not inked and without colors. If you like Benitez, this is one to track down! The D cover is the Denver Con Exclusive by Benitez & Sotelo. It, too, is the same art as the A cover, but with different colors and no construct behind her. This has an olive background and Mechanika’s clothes are darker. This is as cool as the others. There is an E cover by Dan Mendoza and can be purchased though PrimetimeCollectibles.com. This is a very stylized looking Mechanika who is turned to the left with a pistol held high in her right hand. I have to admit I was a little surprised at seeing this character drawn like this, but I like it. In fact, I’d buy a book if had the title character looking like this. Next up is the F by Jesse Wichmann & Tevan and is available at JesseWichmann.com. With her left hand on a cane with a large crimson top, Lady M looks at the reader threateningly, a pistol in her right hand held skywards in readiness. She’s wearing a gorgeous red dress with a black corset. Her right leg protrudes from her dress to reveal several wooden stakes attached to a garter. A dark violet background is behind her, as is a metallic circle that contains an object that resembles the sun. Awesome! The G cover by Miguel Mercado which can be purchased at Yesteryear Comics is a mood piece with Mechanika in a black dress on the streets of city that’s enveloped in a green fog. She pauses in her step and raises a stake in her right hand because she is followed by a woman in red dress. This is great! The final cover is the S, the Blank Sketch cover, that features only the elaborate, yet gorgeous, text at the top, allowing a fan to get a one-of-a-kind sketch on it or the signatures of all the issue’s talent. I like the idea of these covers, but on their own they’re not much. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C A, D A, E B+, F A+, G A, and S C

The story: The first five pages of this book start in a very surprising locale for this series: “500 years ago, Anahuac City, in what is now called the Valley of Mexico.” There’s a cute family moment that’s interrupted by an alarm. What causes that alarm is not revealed, but its horrors are shown to the reader. In the present day Mechanika City, London, Lady M calls on Dr. Littleton to ask for her assistance while away. Before she leaves she asks his opinion on something that’s weighing on her after her previous series. He addresses her concerns, but has a very interesting request, with her answer intriguing. The plot of the issue has Mechanika travelling to Spain to help a woman with her son. There’s plenty of family drama before writers M.M. Chen and Joe Benitez have the title character spring into action. As much as I like the action, I have to say that the build up to the action is picture perfect with Mechanika getting two different points of view about the situation. If it had been just this for the issue, I would have been fully satisfied, but the sun goes down and something occurs. Great setup with a fantastic final image that will keep readers waiting for the next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: The main story is by Brian Ching with the first five pages by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel with digital inks on these pages provided by Studio J-13. I love the setting of the prologue with the buildings, exteriors and interiors, incredible looking and the people fantastic. The first page is a great tense beginning, with that final panel reminding me of Neal Adams’s artwork. The vicious character on the second page looks amazing. The exit at the bottom of Page 3 is as impressive as any hero running into action. The action that occurs on 4 is incredibly violent, but the artists have done a good job in keeping it safe for younger readers. I also have to applaud the use of the cords that act as borders on several panels. In Lady Mechanika stories they’re often metal rods with bolts and knobs of all sizes, so seeming them appropriately changed for the location and time period was extra cool. Ching takes over the remainder of the book and his work looks just a s cool. The characters are stunning, with Lady M, Pedro, Leonora, and Doña Rosa designed so well. All of incredibly intricate details in their garb makes them incredibly realistic. The outfit that Mechanika dons on 20 is killer! And the settings are also lush for details. Leonora and Pedro’s home is a mansion and it looks it for all that’s within. The action that ends the issue is fast paced, surprising, and, by the end, shocking. I’ve never seen anyone other than Benitez illustrate a Mechanika story, but Ching is definitely skilled enough to draw this character and her world. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Beth Sotelo does an incredible job on all the colors of this book. The prologue demands little light, given the time period, but every element of the art is seen. The beads and stones that the characters wear are beautiful highlights on each of them. The borders are also impeccably colored — they caught my eye right away and I loved them. Notice how Page 5 is darker than the previous pages, but Sotelo still has the art clearly shown. It’s the sign of an ace colorist that can make the art darker, but still visible. Lady Mechanika’s entrance on 6 has her fairly dark, matching her mood. I like how she brightens after she begins to speak with Littleton. Her glasses match the striking colors of her eyes, dress, and jewel she wears, which makes her pale skin real stand out on the page. The browns and tans of the family’s home are classical for creating age, wealth, and comfort. Note that when the device is shown in the first panel on Page 15 the background goes a harsh red for emotional impact — so smart! The last four pages of the book use blues for the night sky, allowing blacks to be used for other elements in the panels. Sotelo is always doing an awesome job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Letterer Michael Heisler creates a story designation, yells, dialogue, scene settings, and editorial notes (the same font), sounds, and the three word tease for next issue. The word prologue is in a font different from the scene settings, making it stand out. The scene settings, dialogue, and editorial notes are set apart from each other by the shape of the balloons, boxes, and sizes. It works for the editorial notes, but I do wish the scene settings had been in an elaborate font like prologue was. The sounds are cool, and just as fun to say aloud as to read silently. Heisler is also doing good work. Overall grade: A

The final line: Life is better with a new Lady Mechanika adventure, and you don’t need to spill blood to find it. The story is a solid mystery and the visuals continue to be exemplary. You are missing out if you’re not following this character’s adventures. Seriously, check this out! Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to http://www.joebenitez.com/product/lady-mechanika-sangre-1-cover-a-benitez/

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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