Writer: Joe Benitez & M. M. Chen
Artists: Joe Benitez & Martin Montiel
Colourist: Beth Sotelo
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover: Joe Benitez & Beth Sotelo
Publisher: Benitez Productions
‘Would you care for a spot of tea, Inspector?’
The latest story in the Lady Mechanika universe, Clockwork Assassin #1, drops us right back into the steampunk universe with a distinctly robotic-themed murder mystery. A masked woman with cybernetically enhanced strength is slicing and dicing her way through victims, and although the attacks seem random at first, there may well be a more elaborate conspiracy at play. We also meet the imposing Gwendolyn Cain (a surname that might bring back memories of a more disturbing character from the start of the Lady Mechanika series) and also old friends/colleagues/frenemies of Lewis, Mechanika’s long-term ally. It seems that someone has a grudge to bear against Blackpool Industries, but unfortunately it is not long before Lady Mechanika herself becomes the chief suspect in these murders…
As an entry point for this series, Clockwork Assassin #1 is unfortunately not that reader-friendly. As someone who has only dipped in and out of this series, I did find myself having to read a few refreshers on the characters and their relationships, and the slew of introductions to Lewis’ compatriots did have me a little confused. The story is serviceable so far, engaging, but a little heavy on the exposition, and seems a little by the numbers, missing some of the madcap ideas from earlier arcs (although this may change in future issues).
The art by Benitez and Montiel is intricate, detailed, with lots of flourishes, but sometimes seems to cram a little too much into one page, including on occasion, one too many panels. It is a slightly different style to the bolder art in earlier issues, although the colours by Sotelo are carefully themed around the locations and events in the narrative, which is a nice touch. Speech bubbles are bold and easily read, although the exposition creeps in a little here, with a lot of text on some pages, making things a little cluttered.
So far, Clockwork Assassin #1 is interesting, certainly enough to warrant reading the next issue, but does suffer slightly from cramming too much into a small space. Perhaps not the best choice for casual readers (although I can definitely recommend earlier stories in this universe) but fans should be intrigued, and hopefully the rest of the story is a little more streamlined.