JUST JOSHING: Mercy
I always get intrigued whenever I see an Image Comic number one. Yes, people think of the mega-hits like Saga or a Jonathan Hickman book or something from Robert Kirkman or another superstar in the industry. My personal favorites tend to be the books with talents I’ve never seen before. I loved Kurtis Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s Green Wake. Creators like that are the rising stars and truly unique voices in the industry. Today I happened to pick up something that has that distinct voice that has that distinct voice that feels different.
Created, Written and Illustrated by Mirka Andolfo
Mercy is a comic about the monsters in our midst. Some more obvious than others. Every character in the story introduced so far is more than they appear. This book is one part urban fantasy, one part victorian gothic and final part horror story. It’s beautiful and deadly. Kind of like the people in the book.
Issue one begins with a prologue involving Ms. Swanson, who is forced to retreat from some unknown menace in a mine. In desperation, the mine is blown to bits. In the aftermath, a man in a top hat and cane who seems to sprout abominable plants offers a deal to one of the victims.
Time passes as we go into chapter one. The town is gathered at the anniversary of the explosion. Ms. Swanson is there, observing it. She is heckled by two men at the funeral as they accuse her of being a bitch.
Meanwhile, a runaway named Rory, a native girl observes the angel, who reminds her of her dead mom. After, Rory runs into a man carving up some bread with a knife named Jonathan, which gives the readers a chance to meet Rory and get a sense of who she is. They are interrupted by Jonathan’s sister Betsy, which makes Rory realize that she’s late for whatever appointment she has. Jonathan has an innocence to him that none of the other characters, seem to possess, including Betsy, who delights in her brother’s views, even if it’s clear that she doesn’t share them.
Snow starts to fall, and in that cold, there is the arrival of a coach. In that coach, we see a man in a hat and cane similar to the prologue. His name is Mr. Goodwill and he is trying to get his fellow passenger, Miss Hellaine to smile. Miss Hellaine seems to despise the charade being played here. Yet the importance of appearance and acting is discussed heavily here. Again, the theme of appearances being deceiving is very big.
The scene shifts back to Rory, who we find out is being used as child labour by a man named Uncle, who looks and acts like a despicable bastard. And yet, Rory remains unbroken. She is in an attic praying to God about a face she dreams about, and the description isn’t that different from Miss Hellaine.
In the next scene, we find out why Betsy doesn’t have Jonathan’s more innocent view. She works at a brothel and her clients are the two gentlemen who called Ms. Swanson a bitch. It turns out, she’s vindictive, as after Betsy is finished with them, Ms. Swanson addresses both of them and brings some muscle to ensure they never do that again.
Ms. Swanson has a connection to these monsters as she has seizures and dreams about them. The issue ends with Mr. Goodwill and Miss Hellaine arriving. Whatever is going to happen is going, to begin with, the first issue.
Mirka Andolfo writes and crafts this world with a lot of layers. Nothing is quite what they appear to be and there is a deliberate defying of expectations. Rory is a naive girl who believes in God and is raised, Christian. Jonathan and Betsy are colored people in an era where they are not so easily accepted… There is a lot of playing with expectations. The world has a dark magic to it, and the style of the book reminds me a bit of Umbral. There is a fairy tale quality in Andolfo’s work. Of a Grimm Variety, but definitely something magical, dark and haunting.
All in all, a solid first issue and a book I’ll definitely check out in the future.
This week on the podcast I had the opportunity to talk to a video game company called Vox Pop Games, and we talked about their new gaming platform for independent creators. This was an educational conversation about the nature of games themselves. Charles Yu and Marc Anthony Rodriguez are two amazing guys that are passionate about the business they are putting together. I learned some important lessons about gaming in general, but it was great to sit back and have this kind of conversation with two pioneers in the industry. Take a listen if you love video games. I had a blast and you will too.
I had the opportunity to meet some magazine editors this week. I may have the opportunity to do some cool things in some magazines in the not too distant future. I am hoping to be able to make an announcement Monday. All in all, I’m about ready to launch the freelance version of myself to the world in about a month’s time. This has been a crazy week.
Next week I’ll have a comic book for Kickstarter for you to check out, and the following week I’ll be looking at another amazing concept from Webtoon. If you have a comic you’d like me to review, or a series to recommend, hit me up. I’m always interested.
Until next time, stay inspired.