Ready or not, Ladies and Gentlemen, here comes Lady Mechanika, But is she ready for the world that awaits her? The answer is just a click away.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Createor, Writer and Drawer: Joe Benitez
Colorist: Peter Steierwald
Letterist: Josh Reed
(Covers are done by Joe Benitez, Peter Steigerwald and J. Scott Campbell)
After 2 months of near inactivity, The Knight's Shelf is finally Back in Business. To celebrate, we're going to have a 3 day event where I cover a series that was not only one of my picks for last year's" big surprise", but could end up becoming one of the best stories that the medium is producing right now. Starting with Issue #0 today and ending with Issue #2 on Friday, The Knight's Shelf's aim this week is to get its' readers in on the ground floor of "Lady Mechanika".
Like many things in this medium, the Issue #0 has become a completely different animal from when it was originally introduced. First gaining notoriety in the 1990's the Issue #0 was mainly used to either begin (or in Zero Hour's case, end) a gigantic storyline, or to denote a side story that was worked on by a Superstar Creative team. Today, Issue 0's are mainly used by companies (outside of the Big 2, in particular) to serve as either as an introduction or "jumping-in" point for the story that is being presented in the issue in question. Another feature that these issues possess is a lower price point that makes it easier to decide to give said work a chance. Of course, some Issue 0's take advantage of their opportunity, while others are better to never speak of again, however, there has never been an Issue #0 that has sold me on a concept as quickly as "Lady Mechanika" #0 did. Where has this comic succeeded where others have failed? Simply put, it does almost everything right that an introduction comic (and a comic in general) should get right.
What worked in this comic?
In its most basic form, Graphic Storytelling is the fusion of Words and Sequential Art for the purposes of telling a story that engages the reader both visually and mentally. When someone takes full advantage of the innate features this story format carries, the creators give the readers an amazing visual of both the world and the characters involved in it. Which in turn, helps to capture the minds (and imaginations) of the readers, who become hungry for more stories. Something that the creative team understood in to the letter in creating this work to introduce readers to the world they wanted them to become involved in.
For starters, the story of Lady Mechanika #0 involves the title character on one side of a chase to capture a "demon" that interests both her and her competitors. Of course, this story is nothing that experienced consumers of entertainment haven't seen before, however the biggest strength of this story lies in the overall structure of the story, itself. Not wanting to sell the concept short, the creative team treats the pages allotted as prime real estate, leaving everything it could on the paper, thereby taking a story concept that looks thin on the surface, to give us something that ends up being so much more.
On the writing side of the chores, Benitez isn't afraid to let the words flow, as the narration boxes at the beginning of the story give the reader all the details they need to understand why the McGuffin of this story is of the upmost important to Mechanika and her rival in the Blackpool Armaments Company. Beyond the well layered exposition, we get dialogue that not only looks and sounds good, but gives us a deeper understanding of the characters involved in this situation. Lady Mechanika gets extra special treatment, as we learn that she is not simply just another dime-a-dozen badass fighter chick, but a woman with relatable motivations and an extremely admirable code of honor that she's willing to display over an opponent's face. It is such excellent character work that ends up giving the proceedings even more legitimacy. Speaking of legitimacy, the writer also deserves his props for understanding how people spoke during the Victorian Age, and for making sure that the dialogue didn't feel out of place with the setting, adding yet another checkmark of approval to a writing job that's already amazing.
Not being content to have this work stand alone on its writing, the creative team pours as much of their soul into the art, as well. First of all, the amount of detail that Benitez puts into each drawing is simply awe inspiring, as this book is simply a marvel to look at one the surface level. Beyond just making the drawings look pleasing to the eye, the artist also adds just as much detail to the expressions and actions that each character goes through with every panel, making the strong dialogue stand out even more. Speaking of panels, another thing that the art team as a whole deserves credit for is the overall art direction of this entire comic, as each single drawing feels just as important as the one that preceded it and even the spread pages feel like they have purpose beyond just looking good, something that is always welcome in this medium.
In Spite of all the credit I'm giving Benitez, it would be disingenuous to not talk about the jobs that the colorist and the letterist did in making this overall package shine as brightly as it does. Peter Steigerwald's use of colors help make the work even better, as his attention to detail gives both the characters and the world defining traits that captures the attention of the reader. As far as the letters go, Josh Reed goes wild with the setting and makes some of the best use of the Victorian Font that I've ever laid my eyes on. While most people won't care too much about those details, they're just the icing on the cake for those who do.
What didn't work?
As far as this comic goes, there's nothing that stands out that could even be considered a real minus towards the overall work. If anything, the only real gripe I had with Lady Mechanika #0 was that I wanted more of the character, settings and world. Of course, this isn't meant to be a bash against the pacing of the book, or the amount of content offered, but as an expression of how much I want to see more of this Universe as a whole. That's how much this book impressed me.
My Final 22 Cents:
Bottom line, Lady Mechanika #0 is probably as close to a perfect introduction to a story as you can get. Under a premise that seems quite simple on the surface is a multi-layered character and world that's just waiting to be explored. The painstaking effort of the creators results in a book that's worth more than its weight in gold, as the final result is a 14 page story that's more satisfying than many 22 page Graphic stories that are produced in any given week. If this is what's in store for me each time a new chapter of this story comes out, then "Lady Mechanika" Is going to become a welcome part of my pull list that gets me to my Comic Shop whenever it comes out.
Story/Writing ****1/2: Masterfully written, Lady Mechanika #0's story grips you from the beginning and doesn't let go until it's over.
Art *****: Neither descriptions nor scans do this book justice. This is a book that needs to be in your hands for you to appreciate the labor, effort and beauty of the work that the art team put into this title.
Accessibility *****: It's an introduction to a new character and the world she lives in. What else do you need besides curiosity?
Final Judgment: ****3/4 (Exemplary)
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight