Genre: Comics, Steampunk and Fantasy
*I received an ARC of this book through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review*
Lady Mechanika arrives into Santa Catrina, a small village, during the Día de los Muertos festival after suffering a loss. The Jinetes, horseback-riders from the world of the dead, come to the village to collect their offerings. Lady Mechanika then decides to act to save the villagers.
By Joe Benitez
What struck me first was how gorgeous all the artworks are! In fact, they are jaw-dropping with the flamboyant colours and numerous details in their clothes, build, bodies, and objects. I really enjoyed how all the acts’ titles (even the main title) are in Spanish—now that speaks of culture and experience! Because, if you don’t know, the Día de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico, where the people speak Spanish. Did I say acts? Yes, I did. Instead of chapters, acts divide the whole book, just like a play, a movie, or most stories for that matter (depending on the technique used, there can be from 3 to 6 or 7 of them in a novel).
Moreover, the characters’ clothes and makeup are sensational. Wow! They even serve the story which is doubly amazing. The panels are dynamic (sometimes we even get a glimpse from Lady Mechanika’s point of view under her big hat). Fun times, I’m telling you! Last note about the graphic aspect of Lady Mechanika is how the panels’ borders are made of pipes and gears which really make for a steampunk feel to it! The background has got scratches like used paper, which feels old too… A subtle but great touch!
Now, what about the story? The beginning is intriguing and jumps right into the subject. It doesn’t wait around. Instead, it sets the tone for the rest of the story and is creepy enough while being stunning. It also sets up the setting and the events quite early on and this comic does it quite nicely. You’d have to be blind to miss the information! The story itself is exciting and starts drastically, mixing folk tales with the Lady Mechanika’s invented story. The use of children as important characters in the story impressed me—it is rare but exquisite and fun when it happens! As for the other characters, they are all different and lovely in their own ways. But most noticeable, they all have their own agendas, stories, thoughts, and everything else that makes them unique. It is enjoyable to see them all mix and react to each other!
It’s hard to feel for Lady Mechanika, the main character, at the beginning, but the more I read the more lovable she became. After all, she’s courageous, a trait I respect. Moreover, we get to see a bit of her backstory, which helps us understand more about where she comes from and why she’s so different. Mostly for people who don’t read Lady Mechanika (like me) and thus don’t know her well over several comics.
On top of that, I found it to be culturally respectful of Mexico and El Día de los Muertos. The author and artist really made La dama de la muerte a pleasure to dive into. I felt like I was there, sucked into these magnificent pages and trying to do good alongside Lady Mechanika. It was insightful, that’s for sure. The emotions are well-portrayed. We can identify them without any problem. The action is thrilling and nice in terms of visual. I’m not one who likes fight scenes much in comics, but I can say those are entertaining.
The story is intriguing and sometimes misleading (a real treat!) as the plot unfolds. I admit it emotionally destroyed me (I cried, yes), but it was SO good! The ending… Awww, what can I say about the ending? I loved it! It’s such a surprise even I couldn’t see coming (and I usually detect all the major twists in a story).
There is only one negative point and I think it’s somewhat big. Let’s say the villagers’ reaction to the tragedy befalling them is… strange to say the least. I didn’t find it realistic, but it was cute and soothing—if not comforting.
I give this comic a rating of 5 out of 5 despite the negative point because I had such a wonderful time reading it. Seriously, it is well-done and impressive. I have fond memories of this book and I am certain I’ll keep them for a long, long time… Why? Because I will buy and read Lady Mechanika’s other comics! I am a fan now.
If you want to learn more about Joe Benitez, creator and artist of this gorgeous comic as well as the series Lady Mechanika, do head over to his Web site.