Former Weapon Zero/Darkness artist Joe Benitez’s beautifully rendered steampunk extravaganza returns to ComiXology Submit with a brand new adventure in Lady Mechanika: The Tablet of Destinies – a superb slice of Victorian-infused action rendered in Benitez’s trademarks extreme detail!
Publisher: Benitez Productions
Writer: M M Chen
Artist: Joe Benitez, Martin Montiel, Mike Garcia
Price: £2.49/$2.99 from ComiXology Submit
Just like his cybernetically enhanced heroine, Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika: The Tablet of Destinies is a tantalising hybrid of styles and genres that are combined together to create a powerful and exciting adventure. The story from M.M. Chen (who takes over writing duties from Benitez, who wrote Lady M’s first series ‘The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse’) is a rip-roaring adventure that reads like a cross between Lara Croft, Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes and is rendered in Benitez’s trademark exquisite detail to create a truly stunning book.
Our adventure starts out in the heart of Africa where an archaeological dig are on the search for the mysterious city of Enki, where they hope to find the secret of alchemy. Back in London, the group leader’s granddaughter Winifred, believes the team to be missing and so contacts the only person she can turn to in a predicament like this – Lady Mechanika, the woman who helped solve her parents murder and who, at the start of this series, is in the French alps hunting a yeti with some excitable tourists! Upon returning to the city of Mechanika, Lady M investigates the ‘disappearance’ of the archaeologists and their links to a mysterious secret society known as the Rosicrucians, while Winifred is kidnapped by some nasty German speaking villains and used to blackmail her ‘Pappy’ into helping them discover more about the mysterious city in the jungle.
Despite being packed full of age-old tropes like mysterious jungle cities, secret societies and evil German villains, Lady Mechanika has a surprisingly fresh and original feel to it which in no small part is down to Benitez’s extraordinary visuals. From the opening page where you are greeted by a clockwork cyborg pigeon rendered in exquisite detail then you know you are in for a feast for the eyes. Mixing steampunk aesthetics with his own inimitable style (and lots and lots of cogs), Benitez has created a truly wondrous book to look at. Although for some he may still exhibit a few too many ‘Image in the ’90s’ traits (like an abundance of pouches and some breast-thrusting poses – not to mention Mechanika’s rather ridiculous breast revealing leather hauberk) Benitez’s work manages to transcend these cliches thanks to the sheer level of detail and minutia in every page, along with the dynamic pace that he gives the more action-packed parts of the story. Praise is also due to Mike Garcia’s colours which gives the whole book a rich warm feel and inker Montiel simply for rendering all those darn cogs – a truly epic labour of attention to detail!
However, this is not just a 1-dimensional collection of images by a superstar artist, as the whole series has a level of depth to the characters which mean you actually care about what is happening to them. With exposition and narrative levels that match the detail of the artwork, the story-telling feels just as substantial as the visuals and as such the whole series defies the negative tag of being ‘just an indie book’ – which can often be short hand for ‘lesser quality’ – as Lady Mechanika has the kind of depth and slickness that would not be out of place in any of the mainstream publishers line ups.