Lady Mechanika: Sangre #1 / Story: M.M. Chen and Joe Benitez / Prologue Pencils: Joe Benitez and Martin Monteil / Main Story Art: Brian Ching / Colors: Beth Sotelo / Letters: Michael Heisler / Publisher: Benitez Productions / Published: June 5, 2019
Lady Mechanika takes place in Steampunk England at the turn of the century. The heroine has survived a horrific experiment that has given her mechanical limbs, and she uses her abilities to solve crimes. In Lady Mechanika: Sangre, we meet her after a prologue as an invisible beast rips through the people of an ancient city in Mexico. At present day, Lady Mechanika readies for a journey to Spain to help with a strange case of a boy who is possessed by a demon, or is he?
Benitez and Friends
Writer-artist Joe Benitez created Lady Mechanika, wrote her stories, and has drawn her since her debut in 2010. This issue he shares both writing and art with others. Luckily the combined writing of Benitez and M.M. Chen does not disappoint! M.M Chen has written the character in previous issues and knows her well.
Misdirection and Mystery
From the first moment Lady Mechanika: Sangre opens, Chen and Benitez grab the reader, and they do not let go. We are taken on a rollercoaster of misdirections, wrong assumptions, and mysteries. Although, and interview with a housekeeper goes a bit long, the information discovered reveals an angle one could not have discovered alone.
Even with that discovery, Chen and Benitez make you question whether the victim has really been possessed or is simply a victim of gay bashing by his father and a priest. It is a very timely issue considering June is Pride month and our current political state.
Lady Mechanika of course disagrees with such injustice and the use of the Steampunk version of what seems like conversion therapy. That being said, the writing duo throws us for another loop to end the issue. Is it possible both demon and injustices are present in this mystery?
Art is another story. We begin with a prologue that Benitez and Martin Montiel sketch together. Benitez’s art is unmistakable, and his angular faces are present in the beginning. Although I have my suspicions about who drew what in this Prologue, it is difficult even for a longtime fan to tell. The two work seamlessly in this beautiful introduction to the horrors we will see in this series.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the main story art of Brian Ching. Ching’s art is beautiful and detailed. It supports the story, paints the horrors to come, and accentuates the emotions of the characters. That being said, in some panels, specifically the beginning, Lady Mechanika herself looks more elfish anime than the character we have grown to love. Her face is round and softer, she seems to hunch, and somehow seems less poised than normal.
Although others have drawn for past issues before, it was not this obvious. Of course, just like with the bigger publishers, we will have to get used to many artists drawing the more popular Lady Mechanika. Let’s just hope the integrity of the character remains intact. When she gets angry later in the book, it does feel like her character is coming back through the art. Ching’s approach will just take some getting used to.
Luckily, Beth Sotelo’s deep and dark colors create the tone of the book. Sotelo keeps the richness of the story and the texture of the time period through the depth her accentuated colors. Together Chin and Storelo’s artwork is cohesive in manufacturing this horrifically mysterious world.
Overall, this story fits with other the other wonderfully-crafted Lady Mechanika books. The story is compelling, mysterious, exciting, and dramatic against the cool, bad-ass, and calm of our heroine. New readers will love her disposition, attitude, and the dark Steampunk world around her. It’s a must read!
Old fans will love that the new story seems to be off to a very good start, even if the way main character is drawn doesn’t feel right. Regardless of the new direction, I’m excited for a new chapter in Lady Mechanika story and recommend anyone who has not read this title to pick it up!
Verdict: 4 out of 5