By: Joe Benitez
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Benitez Productions
Series: Lady Mechanika
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
In my quest to read more graphic novels and not only manga I stumbled onto the Lady Mechanika series by Joe Benitez, a steampunk action series with beautiful character designs and gorgeous artwork. Lady Mechanika is a graphic novel series that I’ve been following for almost half a year now. The series is a steampunk, action packed story that follows the Lady Mechanika, a woman with mechanical limbs with no recollection of her past who solves problems that other people can’t. Lady Mechanika La Dama de la Muerte is a prequel of sorts, occurring before the start of the first volume of the graphic novel between the as yet unexplained origin. With breathtaking art and a story that is keeps you hooked, La Dama de la Muerte is another great addition to the series.
In this volume we are introduced to a younger Lady Mechanika, one who is lost both mentally, spiritually, and physically. When she disembarks a train and finds herself in South America, she meets a kindly grandmother and her two grandchildren who put her up for the night and invite her to the downs Day of the Dead celebration. When terrifying creatures in glowing masks come and ask for their yearly tithes, Mechanika knows not all is as it seems and sets off to stop them – whether or not they really are the servants of Mictecachuatl, the Lady of the Dead.
I do wish it was just a little bit more obvious that this volume was set in the past earlier on in the story. Only after Lady Mechanika explained her situation in full during the Day of the Dead celebrations was I absolutely certain that was the case, though it did become more obvious as the story progressed. Still, it would have cleared up some initial confusion as to how Lady Mechanika managed to clear several continents and an ocean by train alone.
While we may not have gotten a great amount of new information on Mechanika’s past in this volume, we did see character development. Her feelings, her changing views and priorities are all wonderful to see. While Mechanika is never portrayed as entirely flawless, I did like that her mistakes in this volume had much more dire consequences than normal. This was not a case where a slip up meant the death or imprisonment of a friend. Here we see Mechanika swept up in events that threaten complete strangers – people who share little more than an understanding of the same language.
Some beautiful moments did occur, moments where Mechanika allowed herself to be a bit more open with her emotions and allow us to glimpse her past.
While I quite enjoyed this graphic novel overall, there were a few pet peeves it struck with me.
Everything within brackets in the graphic novel is supposed to be spoken in Spanish. However, there are times when words and phrases pop up within the bracketed sections that are actually written out in Spanish. Why? Well, at first I attributed words not easily translatable. Yet, entire sentences were written out in Spanish when it is already understood Spanish is being spoken. I’m not sure what it is, but this always completely shatters my suspension of disbelief. This most definitely counts as a pet peeve and doesn’t necessarily reflect my rating of the graphic novel, but I did feel it was worth mentioning nonetheless.
The other pet peeve that I wanted to touch upon was the use of symbols to denote cursing. There are definitely situations where doing this makes sense. Maybe the genre or age bracket isn’t appropriate for the words. Maybe its being used for humor, something comics tend to do. When curses are reduced to a string of symbols but a good deal of gore and other terrible things are shown around it I begin to question the decisions. It just doesn’t make sense to me to censor curse words but show depictions of decapitation and the aftermath of torture in all of their full brutality. I’m not sure what line is drawn in the sand or where, and am curious as to the decision to censor curses in this particular case.Also, this one gets gory at times. While this isn’t something new to the Lady Mechanika universe, it is worth mentioning as this does strike me as more obviously bloody than, at the very least, volumes two and three. Be forewarned if this is something you want to stay away from.
As this is a prequel, I really don’t feel that reading the prior volumes before starting this one is necessary. If you’re looking for a place to jump into the story this is as good a spot as any before continuing on to Volume 1 where some of the characters mentioned are given more background and context.
At its heart, this is a familiar tale, one told often in many genres. It’s a story of redemption, revenge, and changing hearts. For some readers this could be seen as a detractor. But while the concept of this volume’s story may not be especially new, it was executed very well and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
I really enjoyed Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte Tp by Joe Benitez. The artwork was beautiful, colors bright and popping off the page. The story was well told. And I can’t wait for the next volume to be released. If you are a fan of the series or if you like steampunk you’ll want to pick up a copy of this. If you don’t like excessive blood and guts this may be one to stay away from.