Monstro Mechanica #1
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Chris Evenhuis
Colourist: Sjan Weijers
Sometimes they make you laugh, make you cry, make you think – comics exist for many different reasons. Sometimes, they are just a good old-fashioned swashbuckling fantasy adventure. Monstro Mechanica has Da Vinci, Machiavelli, mysterious robed assassins possibly working on behalf of the Pope - oh, and a 9-foot tall wooden robot.
For fans of the version of Renaissance Italy as portrayed by the Ezio trilogy that began with Assassin's Creed II, this will straight away hit all the right notes. Da Vinci and his apprentice Isabel spend their time working on ever more powerful weapons of war (it's okay, he has his painting to fall back on), and the various warring factions of Italy's city states are vying for control of the latest technology.
What they don't know is that the pinnacle of his achievements is actually a wooden automaton, faster, stronger and more resilient than any human. And what Da Vinci doesn't know is that this robot is actually far more sophisticated than he imagines, with some form of AI, created by his apprentice, running inside - giving it some apparent form of sentience.
The art is clean, clear and colourful, and the use of Italian words and phrases within the script is a clever and unobtrusive way to keep the tone light. I'm interested in seeing what direction they take the overall plot, and how they portray the moralities of the central characters. This is a story of identity, of war and of great people at one of the supposed high points of human culture. A joyous read with some unexpected depth when it comes to questions of right and wrong.