When I first saw Mechanism, I had almost no idea who Raffaele Ienco was. I recognized his art from Symmetry and that was it. Turns out the guy has been in comics for over 20 years and has quite a few creators owned projects! I love finding established creators I had somehow missed. It’s like finding a gem mine that someone worked over for years, but just tossed all the precious stones on the ground. I get to run around and pick up these amazing things and binge! But I am here to discuss one thing in particular: Mechanism.
When you crack open the cover to Mechanism #1 you are greeted by a context free panel from somewhere down the line. A panel displaced in time. The first one is what appears to be an A.I. entity whose “body” looks to be a large atomic soccer ball. It greets someone named Tom who we do not see. Now, I have a great brain-theater. It has THE biggest budget. A cast of thousand I tell you! Set pieces that amaze! This A.I. of course sounds just like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Monotone in a way that says “I am super non-threatening, devoid of emotion, utterly logical, and as a result, a complete sociopath”. As a launching point, it’s perfect.
As the story progresses, we are shown a world that is threatened by “Geckos”, weirdly violent semi-aquatic creatures who attack humanity. The Geckos themselves are oddly green, faceless bi-pedal humanoids. Civilization is driven back behind giant walls by the Geckos’ onslaught and the planet reverts a bit to it’s greener days. One of the aspects of the story is clearly an examination of humanity’s effect on the planet as characters point out that while humanity is suffering because of the Geckos’ sudden attack, Earth is actually recovering. It can start to feel a little heavy-handed, but then the story will switch focus to the A.I.
Now, the A.I is the character I am most interested in. It is a tool created by a man to help humanity fight off the Geckos, but it is embodied by a silent sentinel that is sent out with local police to learn what it is to be “human” and what it is fighting for before it can be linked back to the central A.I. I will just say that it does EXACTLY what I hoped it would, and precisely what the characters hope it wouldn’t. The way humanity is portrayed, I wonder that even if the A.I. helps humanity, it will be to what end? Will humans learn to live on the Earth, or simply use it up again? Will humans even really learn anything at all if the A.I. just fixes their problems? It’s tough to tell which way Ienco will take us.
The art is a style I would describe as “digital pastels”. It has a soft feel… The crumbling world is drawn quite well and the atmosphere is dark, dank, dilapidated and drawn almost perfectly (the three D’s!). The settings are excellent and make me think of a world that’s equal parts I am Legend and Blade Runner. Ienco is clearly comfortable drawing technology as the broken down world is littered with cool looking tech and awesome mech’s. Oh yeah, there are MECH’s!
I wonder if that’s the MECH in Mechanism? Nah…maybe? Nah… I don’t know that the style is something I could get into, but there’s no denying it’s good. Maybe the people are just a tad too cartoon-y for me? Ienco is clearly trying to set the art apart from Symmetry. I personally like the art in Symmetry a bit more, but that’s simply my taste and you should take a look for yourself and see what you like.
What it boils down to though, is that if you like Blade Runner, I am Legend, 2001: A Space Odyssey or are a fan of dystopia stories, general sci-fi and questioning humanity’s worthiness to save, Mechanism is a decent read. It’s good enough I would say check it out, and look at that, the first trade is available!. It may be right up your alley!