This is my review for the Lady Mechanika: La Dame de la Muerte story arc written by Joe Benitez and M. M. Chen, Pencils by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel. Colors by Peter Steigerwald, Mike Garcia, and Beth Sotelo.
So back in November, my mother and I met for breakfast. We just so happened to be next door to my favorite local comic book store. After breakfast I convinced my mom to come in with me. There were a few issues I wanted to pick up and we both wanted to look around for possible gifts.
My mom is actually the one who found this particular comic book. Her dad was Mexican so the art work on the cover of the first issue captured her attention. The sugar skull design and the name were enough to catch my attention. The first two issues were out already so I bought both of them and then was waiting for the third to write the review. This is the first Lady Mechanika story arc I've read but am interested in reading more. I also had to let my mom borrow all the issues.
Just to be clear: SPOILERS AHEAD
Some backstory, Lady Mechankia is set in a steampunk world. She is dubbed that title by the tabloids after being the sole survivor of a madman's experiments that left her with mechanical limbs and eyes. She has no memory of her former life and is on a mission to figure out her past while also working on cases too tough for the police.
Issue one starts with a story of the legend of La Dame de la Muerte and her demon riders. From there it cuts to Lady Mechanika departing a train in Mexico City. She ends up in a small village right on the before the celebrations for La Dia De Los Muertos (day of the dead) and meets the inn keeper and her two grandkids. The younger grandkid, a girl named Zita, affectinitly dubs Lady Mechanika "Nika." (okay so writing Lady Mechanika again and again is getting long, here on out she's LM) LM wakes up right as the celebrations are starting. This segues into an explination of the holidays and some of the traditions. As LM is starting to feel more relaxed a young man who's been bruitilized stumbles into the village.
Issue two picks up with the town realizing the young man is a warning from Los Jinetes (the demon riders for La Dame de la Muerte) and explain that the towns must pay tithes to please La Dame de la Muerte or she will bring suffering to the town. LM points out that spirits would have no need for tithes in the form of gold and food and Los Jinetes are just men using myth to screw over the towns folk. She also learns that standing up to Los Jinetes is what killed Zita and her brother Lucito's parents. However realizing they are men that she probably has more power than LM goes to make sure the town never has to live in fear again. After a battle with Los Jinetes, LM tries to follow some of them back to their hideout. She doesn't find any men but finds kids locked in a cell. From them she learns that the survivors went to gather the others. Upon hearing this she races back to find everyone in the town, including Zita and Lucito, have been slaughtered. She is then shot by some Los Jinetes who were waiting for her.
Issue three starts with her recovery and a new found determination to avenge the death she feels she caused. She goes out and seek Los Jinetes. During this time it cuts away to the men pretending to be demons having a conversation where one of them, the younger brother of another, talks about his doubts with what they're doing. It's revealed that their essentially broke Americans who figured this was an easier way to get rich than working back in the states, or possibly criminals (I don't fully remember and my mom is borrowing that issue right now). When LM finds these men she kills them except for the younger one who ran away and hid. Instead she reveals her red eyes and spares him. The story arc concludes with how she essentially becomes the legend of La Dame de La Muerte.
I found the story arc to be pretty predictable. However, I was absolutely memorized by the artwork. I think it's a fun way to go more in depth with the celebrations of Day of the Dead past the sugar skulls. I like that it focused on the celebration of life and celebrating loved ones. It also made me a lot more interested in the Lady Mechanika story lines, so I will probably be buying the Trade Paperback collections of her other stories. I also want the coloring book. Pretty much I've spent too much time on Benitez site since I started reading these. Another observation is I liked that the steampunk setting was just that, a setting. It wasn't overly done or shoved in your face to the point of taking away from the story.
If you would like to check out the Lady Mechanika series (this story arc or others) or anything by Benitez Productions check out http://www.joebenitez.com
Otherwise you can always check in with your local comic books shop!