Beneath this lengthy title lies a fantastic example of the slow seepage of the steampunk subgenre from genre lit into comics. Creator/ writer/ artist Joe Benitez has come a long way from his work on The Darkness and The Magdalena, both for Top Cow and both nicely illustrated. But Lady Mechanika is a quantum leap forward, art and design wise from those titles. The elegantly designed pages and linework are captivating from cover to cover.
Set in an alternate history England in 1878, the book’s main character was attacked and ravaged by a serial killer. Her lost limbs and other body parts were replaced by mechanical parts, how and by whom she cannot recall. Most of her memory has been expunged, even that of her own real name. Now equipped with the requisite steampunk goggles atop her head, and fortified by mythical Victorian tech to be the proverbial “better faster stronger”, she is Lady Mechanika, a private detective to be reckoned with.
Her outfit has the de riqeur corset, but flesh and cleavage is hidden beneath her costume to drive home the fact her body has been mangled. The shapely curves are still there as in all of Benitez’s women, though. Mechanika’s clothing, indeed, is skin tight with snug trousers (no dress for this adventuring lass)…
On an alternate near-future Earth, shortly after the turn of the 21st century, scientists used bio-engineering and cybernetics to create the first real superheroes. Inevitably, there were those who turned these gifts to the pursuit of crime. In time the mega-heroes were overwhelmed by the rising tide of enhanced supervillains. Soon, mega-tech was banned and its surviving inventors driven underground. Faced with these edicts, the few remaining mega-heroes surrendered their positions in society, only to be imprisoned and mistreated for their troubles.
In this atmosphere, fugitive supervillains found ways to slyly assimilate into society as businessmen (of the most corrupt stripe, of course) through bribery and shady deals. Thus they could covertly use their powers, sans costumes, by hiring themselves out to the highest bidder. They practiced their perfidy largely untouched, chiefly under the banner of a corporation called Aggressive Solutions International (hence ASI). Until Madame Mirage.
Mirage is a gorgeous and deadly woman who can outwit and actually provoke fear in the monions of ASI. Sometimes she appears as a wraith to taunt them; sometimes she is solid enough to send them to a horrid demise. Sometimes she works by proxy, as through her agent Harper Temple. Her modus operandi is almost reminiscent at times of the classic pulp hero, Kent Allard, the Shadow…
Three African-American police officers are publicly slain in Virginia in a matter of weeks. The case proves to be beyond the scope of traditional law enforcement, so an elite FBI team, with special privileges, is called in – a group that bends and twists the law ever so much as to wrap the cases cleanly and quickly. This special FBI unit is designed for the sole purpose of dealing with high profile cases in ways “untouchable” by traditional crimefighting avenues.
The unit is headed by Special Agent Gabriel Santana, whose crack team uses hardened criminals in a profiler fashion. These are always criminals who have committed crimes similar to those being investigated at the time. In this issue they have to resort to bargaining with the incarcerated leader of a Nazi white supremacist militia cell, who is less than cooperative at first due to his applauding the murder of three black cops. Santana, himself black, or black/ latino, however, doesn’t play by the usual rulebook or peddle a soft shoe; he offers the Nazi an offer he finds impossible to refuse.
It’s hard to say to what extent creator Eriq LaSalle himself had a hand in the story, but writer Doug Wagner overall does an excellent job. At times 25 to Life reads like a gritty mystery novel; at times it’s flavored by like-minded television series from The Wire to Law and Order: Criminal Intent – even The Unit (sans the military setting). It is sometimes redolent of pseudo-”hard-boiled” comics by the likes of Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker…
Sherlock Holmes is one of my all time favorite literary characters. The stories are just a perfect blend of mystery, crime, mythos, and everything else all wrapped up into one convenient package. So I’m always interested to see a different take on the character and this one really caught my eye by the fact that it has a steampunk element to it and that it’s Sherlock Holmes not quite grown up. So I was intrigued and interested to see what direction they would take the character.
Our story begins in old London, but a different London that you or I know. Here it’s age an of technology and iron and steel. And Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock chases a mysterious man through the slums and onto the wharf…before the villain, Cowl, blows Holmes and the wharf up. Holmes is rescued by his friend James and they head back to their school, Longhall Academy where they prepare for their classes the next day. And then…James dad, Professor Moriarty, shows up with some bad news. His mother has been killed. Holmes, in his typical fashion, attempts to solve the crime while being somewhat haphazard with his friends feelings. Can Holmes solve the mystery and help his friend? Only time will tell.
MR. CRAIG GIVES US ANOTHER FREE DOWNLOAD TREAT OVER AT HIS FUNKY FROLIC BLOG . . .
"Tiger In The Night" is a masterful compilation encompassing the finest works released by the great Mandingo. Far from being a product of deepest darkest Africa, Mandingo was actually Geoff Love and his Orchestra in disguise and this music definitely shows off Geoff at his absolute funkiest!
Well known composers Mike Vickers, Roger Webb and Brian Fahey wrote many of the tracks on this collection and unsurprisingly there is a distinctive library music vibe. The music features lots of percussion, obviously, but also hefty slabs of wah wah, horns and flute that create a rich and powerful sound entirely unique to Mandingo. An absolute must listen recording! Awesome cover art as well, I'm sure you'll agree.
Black Rite Jungle Juice War Dance Sacrifice Kiss Of Death Uomo The Man From Takoradi Manhunter Tiger In The Night Sacrifice To The Sun Jungle Wedding