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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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review 2017-08-04 19:50
Bizenghast Collectors Edition 1
Bizenghast Volume 1 - M. Alice LeGrow

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

I've had this comic book on my shelf to read and review for quite some time, I just didn't get to it until now. (I've known about it for quite, quite some time, back when the author posted on deviantART, and when I saw it on NetGalley, well, it reminded me that at some point, many years ago, I used to check on the related art from time to time.) The copy I got is the Collectors Edition, vollume 1, gathering the first chapters of the Bizenghast series, and I'd say it's more an introduction for now, but still giving the reader to see enough.

A strange girl who isn't getting over her parents' death and whose health seems to suffer in consequence; a boy who seems to be her only friend, in the small remote town where she lives with her aunt who doesn't know what to do with her; and a contract signed in a mysterious castle with a strange arachnoid-slash-humanoid being, with the goal of freeing spirits who couldn't find solace in death, following a trail of riddles. I am not sure yet where this is leading, but in themselves, the first 'tasks' involved sufficiently creepy elements to keep me hooked.

The art is sometimes confusing and inconsistent, though, potentially because it's a work that started years ago, and one can see the author's style changed over the years. Still, it's worth a read.

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review 2017-07-30 20:18
The Comic Book Story of Video Games
The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution - Jonathan Hennessey,Jack Mcgowan

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

Fairly interesting, although to be honest, in spite of the early chapters being educative in their own ways, I would’ve preferred to see the focus more on the actual video games (and industry) themselves, rather than also on the electricity/industrial revolution parts. The art style, too, was not always consistent, and sometimes too stiff.

On the other hand, I appreciated the inclusion of actual video games characters in panels, as watchers or part of the ‘narrative’; just trying to remember or find out who they were, was in itself another, different dive into history. (Well, maybe it wouldn’t work that well on someone who knows less about such games, but for me, it worked.)

I also liked how the book included some of the backstage workings behind the whole video games industry; they were plenty of things I didn’t know, for instance Sony and its Playstation, I had no idea there had been a deal in the plans with Nintendo for CD games, and that it completely fell through. (I’m not feeling younger, though. Being reminded that this PSX I got in 1998—and I made it a point to get a US model, too, since the European one didn’t run the games I wanted—was even a few years older than that... well...)

Conclusion: An informative and colourful read. I do wish it had spent just a little less time on the really early years, where ‘games’ per se weren’t so much concerned (to be fair, I already know a lot about computer history in general).

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review 2017-02-27 11:26
Wraithborn
Wraithborn - Marcia Chen,Joe Benitez

[I received an e-copy of this comics through NetGalley.]

This first volume collects issues 1 to 6 of the 'Redux edition. Most of the book is actually a flashback (explaing what led to the events of the first pages), but reads as a full story nonetheless. It introduces us to the main characters of 'Wraithborn', starting with Melanie, a normal and shy teenager who only wants to go through high school life relatively unscathed and unbullied, and thus does her best to remain invisible and not attracted unwanted attention. Only that's what she does when she accidentally receives the power of the Wraithborn, intended for another, and finds herself pursued by an antagonist who wants nothing more than this power for herself.

I found the art in general fairly good, with dynamic action scenes and vibrant colours, although (as often in such cases) the women's clothing is nothing too practical, and Melanie's features seemed maybe too... mature? Including when she's still a clueless teenager. So at first I thought she was more like 25 instead of 15, which felt a bit weird.

Some characters were likeable, like Zoe, with her weird fashion sense and the way she helps Melanie. Mel herself was more subdued, so it took me more time to warm up to her. Val... well, I still kind of wonder if he's going to tell Mel the truth, or if he'll do the not-so-nice thing. Could go either way. He didn't act like the vindicative, jealous type he could've been, all circumstances considered, so bonus point.

The story itself was interesting enough, albeit not too original compared to other works with similar themes. The villains are ruthless, the heroes may or may not be set up for betrayal later by those they trust most, and there's the lingering mystery of why the original 'carrier' of the Wraithborn was outside, instead of preparing for the ceremony (and therefore had to give his power to the first passer-by who happened to be around): either there's something fishy here or it was a plot hole, and I really hope it's the former... but, of course, this is the kind of information that is likely to be revealed only later.

Conclusion: I may pick the next volume in ebook, but probably not in paper version.

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