Lady Mechanika Volume 3 by Benitez, Chen

I am going to have to concede that this is a guilty pleasure read. The art is lovely – from the panel designs to the color schemes – it’s 1990s digital at its finest. There is a lot of talent here and it is quite apparent when devouring the lush visuals that we have true artistry at work. But the stories are, once again, very derivative and I find this series missing the alluring fantastical aspects of steampunk – the wonder and the innocence of turn of the century London. With this volume 3, the story takes an even darker turn as we get a sub arc and then more information on the main arc of our heroine’s background.

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Lady Mekanika still seeks the mystery of how she became mechanically augmented. When exploring a case dealing with murdered street urchins with missing body parts, she makes a connection with a detective who has a mysterious past of his own. Together, they will work to bring justice to the ‘lost boys’ – orphans society will never miss and therefore have become easy targets for a madman.

The story is quite short this time – nearly half the length of the previous volumes. But I found the art and even the story to be a bit more interesting in this volume 3. The series is picking up its stride as it builds characters – from Fred to the new detective (who sports a fascinating half Indian/half British history). Frustratingly, I find the side characters so much richer and more interesting than the main; I understand she needs to be a cypher but she is also fairly one dimensional as well.

The story this time delves into Jewish mythology of golems – a subject that has spawned several interesting books recently including the best seller The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Because it is so topical, it feels disingenuous here. I want something new and interesting for a pivot plot point, not what’s in the vogue. Steampunk has such a fascinating breadth that there is so much more to be explored and created rather than regurgitated.

Most will probably buy Lady Mechanika for the visuals and not the story. But I hope in the next volume the new side characters will breathe some life to the story, if not our main character Lady Mechanika. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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