Joe Benitez Productions 2016
Created by Joe Benitez
Written by Joe Benitez & M.M. Chen
Penciled by Joe Benitez & Martin Montiel
Inked by Studio J-13
Coloured by Peter Steigerwald & Beth Sotelo
Lettered by Michael Heisler
After suffering a tragic loss, Lady Mechanika takes a trip to a small Mexican village just in time for their Día de los Muertos celebration. But the festivities turn truly deadly after the arrival of the Jinetes del Infierno, the mythical Hell Riders.
Since I’ve been asked to read and review the Lady Mechanika stories I’ve become such a fan of the work done here. This story which will become much more akin to what we’ve come to expect from her stories starts off very differently. There’s a love and tenderness to it that speaks to the soul of everyone who has ever lost someone they love. It’s powerful, gripping and brings you to the verge of tears as you become more familiar with to the Dia De Los Muertos festival as told through the eyes of a local woman, Dona Aniceta.
I love the way this story starts it’s a warning and an introduction about Mictecacihuatl as the Aztecs called her, the Lady of the Dead. Even today she has those who travel to her temple to leave offerings and search for benediction or answers to their prayers. However there is always a price to be paid for such things by any god or goddess. This is wonderfully done, educational and incredibly frightening what a way to start things off, grab your attention and your imagination in the most striking way possible.
Mechanika has suffered a loss very dear to her and got a train, destination unknown. The need to get away to recover from that loss was strong and it brings her to meet Bembe as disembarks the train in Ciudad de Mexico. He sends her to a small inn in Santa Catrina as if he knows her destiny to heal is there. Medicine Men, mystics, healers of the soul it all sounds much like gibberish to many but those cultures where they exist take them very seriously as well they should just as anyone should visiting those places. After all things happen for a reason and though we may not always see what they are it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
The characterisation here is incredibly lovely. The conversations and the education Mechanika gets through it speaks volumes to not just her but the reader as well. Yes we mourn the loss of those we loved but we should also celebrate their lives and the joy they brought to ours and honour them in that way. Superstitions and ageless traditions are there for many reasons and they continue onward because they help bring solace and joy regardless of why or what they celebrate.
With anything Joe works on the interiors are intricate, exquisite and so full of life, attention to detail and filled with backgrounds to give us the entire picture. The use of page layouts through angles and perspective keep the flow of the story moving along nicely. I can’t stress enough from the steampunk borderwork to the way the attention given the smallest of details in the yard, the brickwork of buildings or a water fountain and the impact they bring to the story. No one and I mean no one does like it Joe does. Then there’s the pageantry and costumes of the festival that make you wish you were there and a part of it.
I think of my mother and smile as I heard the words of Dona Aniceta. Don’t be fooled however and take the opening as a warning not all will be as it should on this evening and her unique skills and talents will be called upon. For this is the Lady Mechanika and life for her is anything but predictable. I can’t recommend this enough there’s nothing here not to love.