REVIEW: Lady Mechanika #1

Creator, Writer, Artist: Joe Benitez | Colors: Peter Steigerwald | Letters: Josh Reed | Editor: Vince Hernandez | Cover Art: Joe Benitez, Peter Steigerwald (Cover A & C); J. Scott Campbell, Peter Steigerwald (Cover B & D); Joe Benitez, Peter Steigerwald (Cover E) | Publisher: Aspen MLT

What Is It About?
This issue opens up a year after the events of Lady Mechanika #0 and another female child arrives in the city of Mechanika with similar mechanical features as the city’s famed Lady Mechanika, but the child does not fare the same fate as Lady Mechanika upon her arrival years ago.

Thoughts?
There are a number of new titles that I am excited and patiently waiting to read.  Lady Mechanika is one of those titles, and is so for a number of reasons.  The biggest reason is the enjoyment that I got out of reading the zero issue that came out in October.  The story and art was so amazing that it left me wanting more, but wondering could this issue match that zero issue’s wonderment? Just a few pages in to this issue the answer was clearly – yes!

The next reason I really was excited to read this issue was the hook that the previous issue left us with. Lady Mechanika taking down a hunting party and leaving only a few survivors to “live to tell” was definitely something that was pretty interesting to see, but it was hard to believe that we wouldn’t see the survivors any time soon.  What surprised me is that while this issue opens up a year after last issue ended, we are immediately re-introduced to Dr. Charles Littleton who was the doctor from the last issue. Mechanika makes a comment to Littleton that his arrival in to her city just at the same time as a mechanical corpse arrives seems a little fishy, and she is probably right.

The mystery that Joe Benitez is creating in just a few pages is impressive to read because it seems so effortless for him to build up so quickly.  If there is something that does show Benitez is still getting his dialogue under control is the large amount of dialogue in this issue.  In the few pages that Lady Mechanika and Dr. Littleton speak to one another there is a large number of dialogue bubbles.  I don’t want to make this out to be a criticism – it’s not.  I have a good feeling we’ll begin to see these large pieces of dialogue slim down as Benitez develops this series and the relationship between the various characters.  For now, the writing is very good and the story’s pacing and progression is great.

The art in this issue is as solid as the zero issue, and really helps develop the story nicely.  While we saw a number of splash pages in the previous issue, this issue seems to cut those down a little, but it does not take all of them away.  When Benitez has the chance, he lays out some really great two-page spreads and really lets the art breath on the page.  His work is so good, and so consistent.  There isn’t a bad page in the whole issue, and I think that has as much to do with Benitez’s art as it does with Peter Steigerwald’s amazing colors.

I can’t imagine what it is like for Steigerwald to put something like this book together.  The color palette is rich and vibrant and really helps set a great overall tone and look for the book that I think would really be missing if this was a black & white or one or two-tone book. I can tell that given the chance, Steigerwald is going to rock it out with this series!

The Verdict?
Lady Mechanika #1 is a great issue and really provides action, mystery, suspense, and solid entertainment from page to page.  Joe Benitez is really pouring his heart and soul in to this book and you can easily tell and appreciate it. Highly Recommended!

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REVIEW: Soulfire Vol.2 #9

Story: J.T. Krul | Pencils: Marcus To | Inks: Richard Zajac | Colors: Beth Sotelo | Letters: Josh Reed | Editor: Vince Hernandez | Cover Art: Marcus To, Mark Roslan, Beth Sotelo (Cover A), Joseph Michael Linsner (Cover B) | Publisher: MLT

What Is It About?
Volume Two comes to a conclusion with this issue as ’s plans are played out and Malikai makes the decision that he will no longer hold back. The results of Malikai’s decisions may change the course of everything has planned, or it may work in his favor.

Thoughts?
Soulfire Vol.2 has probably been the series in all of the Soulfire series of titles that had me really wondering what would happen when we got to the end of the story.   You always have an idea of where a story is going. You see things in the issues as you read them and you make mental notes about what’s happening and who’s involved in the events. When you get to the end of the story and you are prepared in a hypothetical sense, but the actual fruition of what you’ve seen coming some times doesn’t quiet have the same effect as you think it will.   This issue had that for me, but in a good sense.   I felt that we’d get to the point where Malikai would not lose control, but lash out in his frustrations and his need to survive.   We get that, but the actions he takes after he escapes from Cole’s grasp, who is trying to siphon Mal’s powers away, I didn’t expect and has me wondering – what’s next?

J.T. Krul has taken on an extremely important role at that I’m not entirely sure he realized he would when he started writing Fathom and Soulfire.   I’m sure he realized he would be carrying out the stories and working with the characters that Michael Turner created and set forth on their paths, but did Krul know that he would not only carry them forward, but make amazing comics that I’m sure Turner would be extremely proud of reading. The ending of this issue, and this current volume, finds Mal in a troubling spot and you can feel his struggle with a minimal amount of dialogue and shows that Krul doesn’t overwrite to force the reader to see the struggle Mal is in, but allows the reader time to digest all that’s happened in the issue and then ask the same question Mal asks of himself as the issue ends.   That kind of writing is what brings me back to a series time and time again.

I will admit, while the writing is very strong in this series, the artwork by Marcus To, Richard Zajac, Beth Sotelo, and Josh Reed has been phenomenal for the entire volume.   I think To is bringing his A-game to this series and then notching it up to another level.   The entire team shines on each page, but the widescreen pages with the layering of panels are some really great pieces of work on all artistic levels. Beth Sotelo is probably one of the best colorists in the industry without a doubt.

The Verdict?
While it does sadden me to see this current volume end, I think it ended on a really strong note and I am looking forward to what is to come in the future with J.T. Krul returning to pen the series and newcomer Jay Fabok on pencils.   If you haven’t been reading this volume, I highly recommend going back and picking up these issues!

REVIEW: Marineman #1

What happens when you mix marine biology, a successful television personality, and the United States Navy in to one comic book? Well, so far you get a pretty educational comic about marine biology with some gorgeous artwork.

When I say the name “Ian Churchill” a lot of today’s readers may not know the name right off the bat.   Sure, he’s worked on some issues of Hulk over at Marvel this past year and a few covers here and there, but Ian Churchill has been kind of quiet in the comic book industry.   Now, if you’ve been reading comics since the early 90s then Churchill’s name has a lot of meaning to you.   You probably saw a lot of his work on various X-Men titles, but especially in the pages of Cable. Churchill had a creator owned series called the Coven that had a lot of buzz around it and really showed off his signature art style.

Read the rest of my review over at ComicVine.