Trouble in the City of Tomorrow

Lady Mechanika: The Tablet of Destinies #1

Benitez Productions

Created by, Joe Benitez
Writer: M. M. Chen
Cover/Art: Joe Benitez
Colors: Mike Garcia
Letters: Michael Heisler
Additional Cover: Martin Montiel

Lady Mechanika is a series that was able to pull off the steampunk vibe exquisitely! The series started in 2010 and was published by Aspen at the time for 4 issues (#0-3) after which it was picked up and continued by Benitez Productions, the creator's personal publication. The Aspen run has been collected in double-sized issues over the past couple of years (available at Joe Benitez's site), however they are not necessary to understand this story. M. M. Chen, a name I am unfamiliar with, writes this story, and it is clear right off the bat that there is a talent and an understanding of the steampunk culture (something which many other writers fail to pull off). Joe Benitez, besides creating this character, has also worked on Magdalena, Titans, Green Hornet, Legenderry (industrial versions of Dynamite characters) and various others. His art style always guarantees great action sequences and gorgeous female characters.

The first issue of this series opens up with an expedition led by a professor and his student to find the lost city on Enki. Upon making the discovery, the story shifts to Lady Mechanika, the mechanically enhanced bounty hunter/detective, as she displays her skills with the bourgeoisie before unexpectedly meeting up with a young friend of hers named Winifred. The girl explains that she traveled to the city alone to find her grandfather, noticing that his communication with her had completely ceased. She also notes that on the way to his house she was stopped by strange Germans. Lady Mechanika travels on with Winifred to Mechanika City, the city of tomorrow, to ensure her safe travel. Once Winifred returns home, a murder and a dangerous interactions with the Germans Winifred met earlier causes Lady Mechanika to think that perhaps Winifred was right to worry about her grandfather, and herself. 

Chen uses dialogue that fits this book very well. Not just the time period, but also the the curious objects and activities that are present. The way he writes characters reactions to certain mechanical practices in the book fits very well. All of the characters seem used to all of the technology around them (which makes sense seeing how they live in it) but still all with a sense of wonderment and discovery. Of course, that wonderment could just be me gawking at this incredible world. The dynamic between Mechanika and Winifred is in direct contrast to the dynamic between her and the upper class she was with at the beginning of the story, so we get to see a whole range of emotions and attitudes from her, all of which make her a more likable character. As for the story itself, it gives just the right amount of context in the first couple of pages and ends with the reader curious about what's next.

Benitez is man who knows the world of steampunk. With no brass, copper, buckle, or clasp out of place, this world is steampunk at it's best. It isn't just in the items (especially guns) that match this genre perfectly but also the outfits. Of course you have a lot of the goggles, vests and the like but it is the touch that is put on them that makes them stand out. Every aspect of the the garb has clearly been designed to look good while still providing the character a full range of motion. Character figures consist of, for the most part, thin and good looking characters. Now, in most stories that would bother me, however in this story it further shows that these characters are living in an industrial society close to being a utopia. Speaking of a utopia, the cities in this story are glistening. Every building is ornate inside and out, none of which lacking innovation and grand scenery. Each action sequences are high octane and end with a palpable blow. Let's add a quick mention of Garcia's colors, which aren't warm, causing the sheen and metallic qualities of everything to truly pop.

If you like a unique style rarely done right, then check this out. It is a unique tale that is reminiscent of an H. G. Wells story mixed with Bioshock: Infinite. Chen has a dramatic and well written start on his hands further perfected by Benitez signature art. This is another relatively small print run so pick it up from your local comic book story as soon as possible. You can also get it directly from Benitez Productions as I mentioned earlier, by clicking here. The first issue of this story costs $3.99 and was released on 4/22. Oh yeah and there's a pinup poster inside! Thanks for reading and there will be a new podcast out on Wednesday!

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