Lady Mechanika is a Steampunk inspired story set in an alternate Victorian era. It is created, written, and illustrated by Joe Benitez, who credits the cosplayers at comic book conventions for inspiring him to create the book. Their Victorian style, Steampunk fashions (gowns, corsets, petticoats, parasols, goggles, monocles, and top hats) paired with 19th-century gadgets that appear to be from that era are what got Joe Benitez’s creative spirits flowing. In Issue #0, he explained, “I dug the elegance combined with the sci-fi twist.” After sketching many cosplayers and characters from the cons, Joe Benitez began developing and designing one of the hottest creator-owned comics on stands today.
Lady Mechanika is about a mysterious character who’s half-human and half-machine. She cannot remember who she is, where she came from, or who created her. Unfortunately, it is not safe for machines in her world. They are hunted down and dissected by villains like Mr. Blackwell. He is the owner of the innovative Blackpool Armaments Co. and only wants the machines to make weapons out of them. In the next issue, Lady Mechanika is attending the Mechani-Con, a “big exhibition of the works of industry held once a year” to try to answer her questions and ours.
My favorite part of Lady Mechanika is the concept of the Mechani-Con. It conveys Joe Benitez’s humor, creativity, and his passion for comic books. In Lady Mechanika, a utopian city that looks like a golden, mechanical version of the Emerald City, the characters at Mechani-Con dress up in their “latest contraptions” just like we cosplay our favorite characters at conventions around the country. Special guests also make an appearance at the Mechani-Con. Enthusiasts can meet their favorite inventors and industrialists and get their autographs.
Joe Benitez said he “infused many of the elements he loves in comics and movies into Lady Mechanika.” Because of the futuristic, technology driven elements, it definitely evoked The Terminator (Lady Mechanika’s eyes are a hauntingly beautiful shade of red), Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Aphrodite IX, and Star Trek. Lady Mechanika also reminded me of Sherlock Holmes, Hellboy I and Hellboy II, Pan’s Labyrinth and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen because it is suspenseful and adventurous. I adore the fashion aspect of Lady Mechanika. Steampunk is influenced by Burlesque, Gothic, and Lolita fashions (Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd is an example), however, it mixes Victorian with antique, sci-fi and fantasy drivingly inspired jewelry, eyewear, and weapons. Brass cogs (they look like the circular wheels inside old timepieces and clocks) of various sizes are almost always used to embellish costumes.
I am a tremendous supporter of Joe Benitez. His list of credits includes Darkness, Magdalena, Soulfire, Titans, and Wraithborn. He has worked with major companies like Top Cow Comics, Aspen Comics, WildStorm Comics, and DC Comics. Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika is a gorgeous portfolio of “strong, sexy female characters,” elaborate costumes, and fantastic scenery. It is an homage to the Steampunk style and subculture.
Jeffrey Scott Campbell’s steamy pin-up cover of Lady Mechanika is sure to get your gears turning.
This not to mention the storyline, which is both sensually provocative as well as visually appealing. Have you read this comic book, or other comics into the modern Victorian Steampunk subculture? If so, dare to comment on which ones, and what you find appealing regarding the Steampunk fashion.