Review – Monstro Mechanica #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Chris Evenhuis
Colorist: Sjan Weijers
Letterer: Paul Allor
Variant Cover Art: Ariela Kristantina
Release Date: 13th December 2017

“A new series starring Leonardo da Vinci, his female apprentice, Isabel, and their wooden robot!”

As a fan of the Steampunk and the alternative history genre in general I was pleasantly surprised by this new work from Paul Allor and Chris Evenhuis. Set in renaissance Italy, the story follows the renowned inventor, engineer, and all round polymath Leonardo da Vinci and his female apprentice Isabel as they weave their way through politics, religion, and the intrigue of Florence’s cutthroat high society. Oh, did I mention the wooden robot?

The writing itself is enjoyable and drew me into the action from the first few pages. No spoilers here but it’s obvious there are twists and turns aplenty to come before we reach the conclusion of this arc; I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading the next instalment. In saying that though, this isn’t without its flaws, although I won’t discuss any spoiler-related gripes. Leonardo is far from an everyman and I feel that we’ve seen a number of these ‘flawed genius’ characters before. His genius does open up some opportunity for good witty lines though and adds some comedy to the action and politicking. I also found a certain amount of gnawing familiarity with the setting should anyone have played Assassin’s Creed which pulls the novelty back somewhat, and it doesn’t feel like the main plot is going to really break any new ground. That said, the interactions between the main characters are very interesting and I think this is where it will show a lot of strength.

Still don’t think I’ve mentioned the wooden robot?

I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with Evenhius’ work prior to reading this but the style lends itself well to the story being told. Nice clean crisp lines mean you don’t get lost in the detail. I don’t want that to sound disparaging or imply the artwork is simple, it complements the layout and dialogue very well; particularly in some of the ‘wordier’ scenes with excellent use of expression. There were a few things I felt slightly anachronistic but given this is cog or clock punk (is that correct term?) easily overlooked. Speaking of anachronism, there is also a cameo, or at least someone who looks very like a well-known character, during a scene in the market. A wee bit of online research tells me Evenhuis is quoted as being a fan so no doubt there are also potentially other nice little touches throughout that I may have missed.

Ok so this wooden robot then? I have to say that I’m not sure the automaton itself actually adds a great deal in this issue other than as a conversation point. Not quite at MacGuffin level, maybe there was just a little too much trying to fit itself in to this issue to cover everything to the same degree. Aesthetically speaking, I feel the robot is maybe underdone; this wooden automaton seems to lack da Vinci’s flair, even in the practical, and I feel it wouldn’t look out of place in retro sci-fi.

If you enjoy classic scheming and political intrigue sprinkled with liberal doses of historical conspiracy, fantastical pseudo-science and metaphysics this may well be right up your strada.

Rating: 3/5

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The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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