Lady Mechanika #3
Written by Joe Benitez
Art by Joe Benitez and Peter Steigerwald
Lettering by Josh Reed
Published by Aspen Comics
Review by Vanessa Gabriel
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Lady Mechanika #3 is finally here. I hope I wasn’t the only one waiting with bated breath, because this book is just about as good as it gets.
We return to Lady Mechanika investigating the Cirque du Romani in search of another mechanical girl like herself. The ambiance of the Romani Circus is bizarre and creepy but also whimsical, setting an appropriately mysterious mood for the issue. The circus fits perfectly into the world that Joe Benitez has created, and is yet another opportunity for his immense artistic imagination to shine.
When Benitez introduces a character, he does it with flair. Some new, beautifully rendered characters are revealed by way of stunning splash pages when Lady Mechanika encounters the Romani. The costume design and detail are absolutely breathtaking. Madame Divinite, the leader of the Cirque du Romani, is channeling European royalty with the fancy of Romani garb. From an intricately jeweled and feathered headdress to her Grecian-inspired corset dress, she is exquisite. Lord Blackpool's steel jaw and perfectly buttoned jacket exude malice. Every single character, new and existing, is drawn with care and distinction. This is the defining aspect of this issue, and the book as a whole.
While Benitez creates an intricate blueprint, Peter Steigerwald gives intensity and light to the story with his coloring. As a matter of fact, as beautiful as the pencils are, Mechanika wouldn’t be half the book it is without Steigerwald’s colors. Much of the coloring is earthy, coinciding with the steampunk, Victorian tone. But it is the well-timed red on Blackpool’s coat, or the bubblegum-pink hair of a Romani sister, the pale green glow around a mechanical girl, and the perfect shadow around the eye of a seer that add depth to important story moments.
The general composition and flow of the panels are also great. This is particularly important given how dialogue-heavy Lady Mechanika #3 is. Highly detailed art and converging plot lines make for a lot to take in, perhaps moving things a bit further forward than a typical single issue would. I do wonder though if this was always meant to be, or if Benitez realized the delays on the book could potentially hurt the story momentum, prompting him to add a bit more meat to the issue. I only mention this because there are a couple of moments where progress feels wedged a bit too tightly into the speech bubble. But that feeling is slight, and overall, I am grateful to get so much story and art in one issue.
Clearly our protagonist is a Lady, but Benitez tends to afford all his female characters leading moments. This is something that has stood out from the beginning in Mechanika, but particularly in issue #3. There are some interesting male characters, but they function as supports for the ladies (and his ladies are delightfully bold). I notice because more often than not in comics, it is the female characters that provide support. While that contrast to other books is not stark, it is noticeable. Thankfully, it doesn’t come off as some sort of “gender-reversal” story gimmick. It works quite well within the frame of the book, and makes for a bit of fun.
Lady Mechanika #3 is in a league of its own in regards to beauty and creativity. Benitez and Steigerwald remind us that there are endless possibilities in store in Mechanika as the search for the mysterious mechanical girl leads straight into the biggest inventors convention of the year. I invite you to come along for a ride in the Helio Arx … next stop, Mechani-Con!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!