Lady Mechanika is a steampunk comic by artist Joe Benitez. Lady Mechanika, the heroine of the tale, is viewed, in some circles of this fictional Victorian society, to be a monster. She is a smart and fashionable woman with mechanical limbs, glowing red eyes and no memory of how she became the thing she is today.
Some might not consider Lady Mechanika to be a monster, as she is presented to the reader as the hero and we are sympathetic to her and her quest to discover the true monster that created her in this likeness. However, I chose her because of how the society around her treats her as a monster les grotesque because of her missing human limbs and super powered new ones.
She is an amnesiac private detective, trying to discover her origins. She has no memory of her life before she became part machine. She lives in the most mechanically advanced city, but still tries to hide her identity. Partly because she is a detective and anonymity is key in that line of work, but also partly because of who, or what, she is.
In issue #0, our introduction to this world and its inhabitants, Lady Mechanika is searching for a part mechanical creature that has scared the townsfolk. She finds him, a creature named Ucky, and we get an inkling into her past. Just when she is starting to learn of her forgotten history, Ucky is killed by a religious, anti-mechanical zealot.
Her internal monologue, in later issues, suggests that, even though now she has carved out a niche for herself, and with that, some respect, that hasn’t always (and at times, still isn’t the case). She knows that being different is what makes her a monster in some people’s eyes. So, she keeps to herself and stays in the shadows. In her line of work, it is excusable. If she weren’t a private detective, though, what kind of life would she lead?
To me, Lady Mechanika is not a monster. But this fictional world, as are most, is just a reflection of our own reality. We create monsters out of the different. Racism, genocide, fear of deformity and the different; we create every day monsters out of other people that do not look like what we see in the mirror, that do not have the same societal norms or practices as we are used to, that do not speak the same way we do.
Lady Mechanika is a woman and to some a monster. But the real question is, what makes someone or something a “monster?”