Independently Well Done highlights completed and/or noteworthy story-arcs published by indie and small press creators.
Written By: Joe Benitez
Pencils By: Joe Benitez
Colors By: Peter Steigerwald
Published By: Benitez Productions
The indie comic market is an interesting place. I say interesting because there may be, literally, a comic for every style and sensibility available. These independent comics aren’t poorly crafted, cheap knock-offs of their more popular counterparts either. The combinations of original storytelling and genres pushed beyond their stereotypes, mixed with the often unknown talents found in the indie world, is simply a wonderland for comic explorers. Often, when I’m browsing indie comics, what I find is a book that completely blows my expectations out of the water. Lady Mechanika not only shattered my expectations but set the bar to new heights.
Lady Mechanika is an appetizing mixture of adventure, mystery, and whimsy. The story follows the comic’s namesake, Lady Mechanika, who at one point becomes someone’s science experiment to merge robot parts with people parts. It works, and is super cool, but unfortunately Lady M doesn’t remember any of the who, what, when, or why’s of it all. However, rather than allowing herself to remain a victim, she decides to become a mystery-solving, butt kicking hero for hire, with a reputation for getting things done.
Yet, if you think being a hero is enough for our Lady M, you’d be wrong. Through her adventurous exploits she’s become a celebrity, and has established herself as a pillar of her community, a role model to children, and is as far from a pushover as one can get. However, there’s a kindness to her sharp edge. When needed, Lady M can certainly play run and gun with the best of them, but it’s her demeanor in it all that really separates her from many of her comic counterparts. Never once do you feel that she is only kind, or only cold. She exudes strength while admitting her weaknesses. In the tensest of situations, there’s a methodical, nearly Sherlockian mind at work.
Lady M is always in control, always disciplined, focused on what needs to be done while anticipating what’s to come, all without losing an ounce of femininity. The best part of which, and for me this is its strongest point, Lady Mechanika doesn’t pander to a male audience. This story is about a strong female lead, not a sex object, who has risen above victimization by embracing and taking control of her life.
As you can tell, I’m more than a slight fan of this character, but honestly I don’t know if it was possible for me not to be. I love strong characters, male, female, frog, or dog, if it’s solid storytelling and strong character development, I’ll not only read it, I embrace it. Yet, beyond exceptional character and story work, Lady Mechanika delivers beautiful art set in a genre I’d personally love to see more comics approach: steampunk.
For some, the Victorian/steampunk genre may be turnoff. However, while this story is steampunk by genre, never once is it the focus. Far too often for my taste, the elements of steampunk are the focus of the story. People and places become a delivery method for wild and fantastical gadgets. Yet, this is where Lady Mechanika separates itself in its own genre. Steampunk is a backdrop for the story to rest upon. In Benitez’s hands, the genre is used as a tool rather than the star.
As for this reader, Lady Mechanika is easily in my top five favorite comics. Notice I didn’t say top five independent comics, but top five comics, period. I can’t recommend this comic to enough people. If only given the chance, I believe this comic can earn a place in the hearts of comic fans everywhere.
You can check out Joe’s work, and even download Lady Mechanika #0 for free HERE