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review 2018-04-02 19:58
Wild Card
Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Wild Card - Mark Powers,Jim Butcher

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

I put up reading that one, thinking it’d spoil me too much about some of the Dreaden Files books I haven’t read yet, but, uhm, turned out it didn’t. Or maybe I’ve ‘forgotten’ just enough details from the books that whatever may have been a spoiler, I just didn’t realise it? Oh well. Good thing in any case.

Globally an entertaining story, with high stakes of the kind you’d find in one of the novels, and a plan coming from a devious enemy who’s clearly understood how to pit people against each other. Because, as silly as it may sound, sometimes the people in charge do act in what appears to be the non-smart way just not to lose face—as much as I find it non-rational, previous plots in the Dresden Files have seen the tension mount enough for this to be believable. This was helped by pretty dynamic fight/action scenes. Also, bonus point for little Karrin and her dad.

On the downside:
- As usual with a lot of comics, I could do without the sexualised-woman-poses, many of which looked definitely weird (you know, those ‘let’s strike a sexy pose while wielding heavy weapons, it’s not as if I need my balance for that’ poses). Just like that scene in the hospital, where a character’s wounds are listed, but when you see said character in bed, well… That didn’t look like such a beaten up and bruised body to me.
- That ending. WTF? In a way, it made sense, but it was so totally anti-climatic that I kept looking to see if I hadn’t missed a few more pages in the book.

So, yes… Something like 2.5 stars, because mostly it kept me entertained, right until that odd ending?

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review 2018-04-01 16:01
Lady Mechanika - La Dama de la Muerte
Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte - Joe Benitez,M. M. Chen,Joe Benitez,Martin Montiel,Peter Steigerwald

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

Not sure where chronologically this volume is set, among the other ‘Lady Mechanika’ ones. In this story, Mechanika travels to Mexico without a goal, grieving for her friend Dallas, and finds herself taking a room in a village whose inhabitants are about to celebrate the dead.

The characters she meets throughout the pages were in general endearing and friendly, passing along their traditions and encouraging Mechanika to have fun for the sake of fun itself, and teaching her of a different way to celebrate her departed ones. To be fair, I don’t know that much about this specific tradition, but from what I know, the comics seemed to respect it and try to delve into it deeper than just ‘oh hey let’s paint skull faces’—a welcome addition.

Less steampunk-oriented than the previous volumes, the story follows some typical western codes: a village terrorised by bandits, and a lone vigilante stepping up to defend them. Not an unwelcome change, although in terms of scenario and plot twists, it was easy to guess where this was going, and that made the story unexceptional in that regard.

The art and style remain very good in this volume, too, mixing Victorian and steampunkish aesthetics with more traditional ‘Día de Muertos’ ones, including costumes and face paint. The latter somehow contributed to keeping the ‘outlandish costuming’ toned down, in that apart from one short corset, Mechanika appears in clothing that looks more tribal, but also easier to move in (much as I like the style, the ‘tiny corset + narrow sleeves’ combo is an awful one for fighting, so I’m all for graphically striking options that are also convenient). If just for the art, this series is definitely worth reading.

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review 2018-01-01 13:33
Lady Mechanika, Vol. 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey
Lady Mechanika TP Vol 03: The Lost Boys of West Abbey - Marcia Chen

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Beautiful artwork like in the first two collected volumes. I didn’t notice the same ‘eye-candy’ level during action scenes as in the first volumes, which is good since it makes those scenes more believable. Exception made for the illustrations at the end, these are all fine since they’re meant to depict the character posing anyway. Also, they’re beautiful. The art and colours remain as enjoyable as ever.

While there’s no resolution as to Mechanika’s past here either, we do get a few glimpses into what she has been through, thanks to her nightmares and memories. I can only hope that at some point she’ll get to find out the information she’s seeking.

This volume dealt with body transfer into what appear like a mix of golems and automata, which means that of course I got sold on that idea pretty quick. There’s a mix of dark experiments with magic and technology, action, and conundrums about what defines life, that I tend to enjoy. There’s a tall, dark and somewhat mysterious detective (Singh) that for once I felt more connection with than I usually do with that character archetype. Oh, and creepy toys, in a sense, considering the golems are doll-like and can easily be mistaken for toys.

This third instalment felt darker to me than the second one, and more interesting even though there was no trip to mysterious temples or adventures in the jungle; I guess that’s my natural preference for urban settings speaking, along with the themes explored in this ‘Lost Boys of West Abbey’ story.

The one thing I really regret is how short this volume was compared to the others. The plot deserved more.

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review 2017-09-01 20:30
Lady Mechanika Volume 2: Tablet of Destinies
Lady Mechanika Volume 2: The Tablet of Destinies - Mike Garcia,Ben M. Chen

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

A slightly different take than in the first arc (which I read last month): this time, the story follows Mechanika from London to mysterious ruins on the African continent, following the trail of an old researcher who’s being forced to decrypt strange tablets under the threat of seeing his granddaughter killed. It’s not exactly the same kind of theme, and although some aspects were a bit cliché (of course the bad guys had to be German), I still appreciate it because... hey, let’s be honest, I do like myself a good old Victorian/early 20th century adventure with archaeologist-like people, secret societies, and, yes, in small quantities, even German bad guys. ;)

On the other hand, this volume didn’t bring anything to the bigger story hinted at in the first instalments (Mechanika’s origins, the history she shares with Commander Winter, the Engineer...), and I admit I would’ve liked to get a few more hints. It also keeps playing on the evil bad guy/female enforcer tropes, which, well, why not, but I hope this kind of dynamics will change later.

The drawing style remains detailed, with vivid colours that get more muted as they adapt to the various atmospheres of day and night. There’s still a lot of eye-candy, however this time I felt it took slightly less precedence depending on the scenes and panels (seriously, huge boobs and perceived sexy poses aren’t necessarily as exciting as they sound when it comes to depicting heroo-types characters... or, well, any character at all). And perhaps there were a few less walls of text, too? I read it in public transportation so I didn’t pay as much attention to that aspect I had noted in the first volume, to be honest.

Conclusion: The storyline remained entertaining, though definitely on the cliché side, and I can only hope this won’t last; nevertheless, large boobs over corsets notwithstanding, I liked the artwork.

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review 2017-08-19 21:36
Lady Mechanika - Vol. 1
Lady Mechanika, Volume 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse - Joe Benitez

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Set in an alternate Victorian (circa 1879) England, this comics deals with Lady Mechanika, a private investigator/adventuress whose limbs are actually mechanical, and who’d like nothing more than to find out who made her like that and where she comes from; all the while being pitted against the sinister Blackpool Armaments Co. and both its shady employer and soldiers. In this arc, Mechanika investigates the death of a mysterious young woman with mechanical arms similar to her own, only to realise that a lot more players are involved, including Commander Winter and a circus full of characters each with their own secrets.

The drawing style itself is, in general, well-balanced and elegant, and the colours match the mood of the various panels and situations. It’s probably a little overkill on the steampunk aesthetics (in that at some point, there’s going to be a lot of leather and corsets and goggles on top hats etc.), so depending on one’s mood about that, it may not be a selling point. On the other hand, there’s a lot of attention to details, which makes it a joy to look for those in panels, and even if they’re of the, well, aesthetic persuasion in spite of usefulness, there’s plenty to keep your eyes busy. (I usually tends to like steampunk aesthetics, so count me in the second category, even though I tend to criticise lightly. ^^)

Not bonus points on the boobs, though, and some of the extreme ‘female body poses’ that I see in a lot of comics. Eye candy and all that, I get it. It’s just... it detracts from the overall badassness of the characters. (And large boobs are seriously not convenient, especially since they easily hurt during stunts. Whatever.)

The characters as a lot were likeable enough: from Mechanika herself, with her doubts but also her resourcefulness and her desire to do what’s right, to Lewis the inventor whose bottle problems hint at dark events in his past. And the little Alexandra, with her gimmick ‘you’re an impostor’atttitude, which made her quibs with Mechanika quite funny—apparently some authors in the comics write stories about M, and the kid thinks these are the truth. There seems to be a current of underlying relationships that beg to be developed in later issues, creating a sense of an over-plot that will be gradually revealed (which I sure hope will happen in later issues because if it doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed). So far I’m not too happy with the two enemy women apparently becoming enemies because of a man (as it’s a pretty boring reason), but it may still turn out to be something slightly different, so we’ll see. I could do with a little less wordiness, though—it doesn’t fare too well in some panels, making pages difficult to focus on—yet I’m also torn about that because some of that dialogue was of the banter kind, and I think this fits well with Victorian/steampunk themes in general.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars, going on 4.Quite an enjoyable comics in spite of the (typical?) eye-candy. I still liked the artwork and additional covers no matter what, as well as the story and its slight cliffhanger/ominous tones at the end.

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