This is a series that I didn't see coming, even though it had a #0 issue released a while back. It's a steampunked heroine sneaking about an Industrial Revolution-era city that is a marvel of technology and wonder well before its time. At least, that's what I'm expecting this to be about. For now, "Lady Mechanika" features great art wrapped around a story that has enough propulsion under it to make it a page-turner.
The opening carries a distinct "Star Wars" influence with shock troops chasing down a mechanical fugitive. The failure of those troops to claim their quarry puts them on the receiving end of Vader-like fury, through which Benitez reveals that the antagonist has a secret commander. The influence is there, but it is only a shadow, and Benitez quickly moves the story in a different direction, setting up the world of Mechanika: both the city and the heroine.
The story is smartly-paced, keenly-dialoged, and filled with enough mystery to make this issue a worthy addition to my re-read pile. There's a lot going on here, and the issue ends in sort of a mess -- a conflagration of shadowy figures and steam, but the promise of a chase and a confrontation that outweighs the brief, but muddled, calamity.
As this issue opens, Mechani-Con descends upon the city of Mechanika, a high-tech, steampunk-flavored city of tomorrow as could only be dreamed up through the memory glass of yesteryear. Through the course of the issue, there is an editorial reference to issue #0, which struck me as odd. I always thought of zero issues as a prologue wherein only minor set-up occurs. Those issues are usually a bonus and rarely referred to again afterwards. Not so much here. I suppose I'm going to have to track it down.
The characters that run through and around Mechanika (this time I mean the city) offer promise for tales to come: Commander Winter, the beautiful redheaded villain wearing white and commanding her troops into action; Doctor Charles Littleton and his outgoing daughter, Allie, on whom Mechanika (the heroine) calls for help unraveling the mystery of the deceased mechanical girl; Lewis, Mechanika' s confidant, who has more than a slight affinity for booze. How these characters affect Mechanika and her world remains to be seen, but to this point, I'm intrigued.
Steigerwald tells the story as much through his coloring as Benitez does through words or image. Browns and gray tones fade the future into view and retire the past to memory while reds blare out the alarm of emotional distress, pending action, or power reined in by gears and guile.
Granted it is very early to tell if this is going to be a great book, but for now - and, more specifically, for this issue - it is really, really good. This is a sharp looking issue that scratches an itch on the comic shelves nowadays. Aspen is known for their strong heroines, and "Lady Mechanika" certainly fits the bill. There's never a better time to jump on a series than with a new #1 (unless there is a #0 of said series) and I have a feeling there will be little space devoted to recap in the next issue as this series rushes forward.