I received this book to review for free from NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions shared are my own and are my honest feelings regarding this book. If you know me I am not one to mix my words simply because something was free. These are my feelings on the book, both the good and the bad. So lets begin!!!
Lady Mechanika: La Dama De La Muerte
Created by Joe Benitez
The story surrounds Lady Mechanika going to a town called "Santa Catrina" in Mexico to try to get over the recent passing of a fellow comrade in arms, but little does she know that she is going during their festival for the dead. She is faced, full-force, with the realities of her loss.
When the town is attacked during its festivities by the Jinetes Del Infierno (The Demon Riders), Lady Mechanika realizes she must take matters into her own hands to protect this town. Through many trials and tribulations, Lady Mechnika fights through hell and back to redeem herself from her own past, but in the process she suffers more loss and this is when vengeance has no wrath like Lady Mechanika as "La Dama De La Muerte."
The central theme of this particular graphic novel should be self-evident, but just in case you need a clue: DEATH! I mean come on, her friend died, she is at the festival for the dead, Demon Riders, DEATH DEATH DEATH. ;) It also is about coming to terms with loss, coming to terms with parts of your own life, and ultimately about making sure evil people get what the heck is coming to them.
I had heard of "Lady Mechanika" in passing because I used to love to read comic books. When I saw this as a "read now" on NetGalley I was like, "Oh, This could be fun." It wasn't fun, IT WAS GOOD! No, let me be more clear: This was a great graphic novel. The artwork was superb. Don't believe me? You doubt my reviewing skills on this artwork? BE SCHOOLED:
Still doubting this artwork is superb? Saying "Cassie, but that is a cover."
BAM! Artwork: The Sequel - (Interior Edition)
Every single page is this detailed, this thought out. Every nuance, every shape, every line serves a purpose to keep you within the world created by Joe Benitez. The craft of storytelling through artwork is done so masterfully here that you forget that you are reading a graphic novel and momentarily will believe you are watching a film before your eyes. This is coming from someone that is pretty jaded on comic books due to the big two (they pretty much killed off every single one of my favorite characters and brought them back as weird versions that I do not recognize: DONNA TROY was a horrible villain anyone?) This made me remember that there are projects out there that are well-done that are not published by these big two publishers. There are labors of love, like this one, that are projects comic book geeks (I include myself here) should be supporting. We should be supporting projects that encompass superb artwork and masterful storytelling. We, however, seem to continue to pull from the same place over and over again. We need to stop doing that, but that is a conversation for another time and another place. Simply put, WE NEED TO SUPPORT THIS BOOK!
Okay, so you are saying "I get it we need to support this book, but you haven't even told us why the storytelling is good, outside of it being masterful. That is a cliched word, just saying." Yes, I am not the freaking Ernest Hemingway of reviews here, so sorry I use cliched words like masterful, beautiful, and superb a lot more than I should, sorry (not really). The reason that this has really good storytelling is that from the moment that Lady Mechanika steps off the train in Mexico the story flows. Each moment we understand. We move forward in logical sequences. There is no jarring, "What is happening?" element to the overall storytelling that is sometimes apparent in less "mainstream" comic book publishing. Also the character's motivation does not come out of nowhere. She is dealing with the recent death of a loved one, so her actions within this story make sense. She is also grappling with her own inner demons over her past mistakes, so every moment feels reflective of that character point. It drives her forward to a conclusion that feels like fireworks because we understand where she has been. We understand her pain and in that conclusive moment we are one with Lady Mechanika and the decision she makes.
Who I Would & Wouldn't Recommend This To:
I wouldn't recommend this book to people that are only into the "superhero" genre because this is not that. This is a well-done story involving a character with depth and emotional baggage. It is more than just "who is the big bad that (insert superhero name) has to fight this time around?" This is about a character that is flawed, deeply, that has to come to terms with that aspect of themselves and how it has influenced her past decisions. If you are not into that, then move along. You may also not enjoy this if you are into more "subversive" styles of comic storytelling. The artwork is very "mainstream" oriented, even if it is an indie publication. This does not try to reinvent any wheels here (in other volumes it may, but not here).
I would recommend this graphic novel to anyone that enjoy a good story and enjoys well-done artwork (duh, since I mentioned those above). I would also recommend this to anyone that is dealing with their own sense of loss in their life. Seeing the process that Lady Mechanika has to go through may help you deal with your own issue, whatever loss you are dealing with. I would also recommend this to anyone that respects the "Day of the Dead" festivities in the Hispanic culture. It shows it in a positive light and showcases why they celebrate their deceased. If you are not aware of this aspect of that culture it will help you to. I was one of those that kinda knew about the festivities, but not enough to say I was versed in it (I am still not, but this helped me to understand it significantly better).
Things to Consider:
Since obviously Lady Mechanika is dealing with the death of a friend, a comrade, or at least someone in her life... This means that there have been other tales with this character that have come before this.
Three volumes to be precise: