Mirka Andolfo's Mercy #1 Review - How Subversion is Supposed to Work
• Mirka Andolfo (Writer, Artist, Colorist) • Gianluca Papi (Color Assistant)
• Image Comics (Publisher)
Many followers of my blog know that Mirka Andolfo's Unnatural was one of my comics of 2018-2019. The series was also one of the main reasons I pulled back from mainstream comics and started focusing my reviews on indie titles.
Comparatively speaking, Unnatural was pretty much better than any comic I was reading from the mainstream and acted as a gateway to other series I would have missed otherwise. I doubt I would have found Tom Scoli's Go-Bots or Mark Russell's Lone Ranger if not for Mirka Andolfo. For those reasons I added Mercy to my comic book pull list the moment I saw it available via solicits.
I didn't know much about the actual story of Mercy going into it. I will say at the outset that this an absolutely beautiful book. The cover art is amazing and the enthusiasm that went into the variant covers has been great. Unnatural also had a ton of cool variant's covers so I'm really happy to see that tradition continues here. The interior art for Mercy is also a bit more polished than Unnatural which is an impressive feat in its own right.
My initial impression from the solicits and preview art was that we were looking at a detective story set in the victorian era and that Miss Hellaine would be the lead POV character. The truth is much darker and sets the story firmly in gothic horror territory.
The story opens in the midst of a monster attack. We don't get many details about the creature but we quickly see what it's capable of before the book has a time jump. The intro attack is explained away as a mining accident and we spend the rest of the issue introducing characters that will no doubt be key to the series.
There's Lady Swanson who shows up in the introduction and seems to be living a double life. Rory, a Native American Child that has been assimilated into American society and identifies as Christian. She lives with her "Uncle" who is abusive to her and the other children that he picks up off of the street for child labor. Rory also has a pretty dark backstory that may seemingly tie back to the earlier attack. Jonathan and Betsy, are two African American characters. They don't get much panel time but are friendly toward Rory and sympathize with her circumstances. Miss Hellaine is a totally different character than what I expected. I won't spoil the book but by the conclusion of this chapter, I was totally onboard with piecing together this mystery.
The story is surprisingly dark and at times horrifying. The book has the comic equivalent of jump scares and they work well when contrast with the lighter tone of the art direction. The atmosphere can make or break a good horror story. Many colorists ruin the atmosphere and immersion of a good horror story by using the wrong color palette.
The most recent offender I can think of would be William Gibson's adaption of Alien 3 from Darkhorse Comics. The colors didn't fit the story and because of bad choices, whole scenes that should have been scary failed to land.
Mercy doesn't have this problem. The book has a dark undercurrent throughout and although the colors are bright and varied I never felt taken out of the story. If there was a master class in color theory Mirka would be one of my choices to give the lecture.
Not enough information is given to properly access the overall plot of the story but what's here is a strong pitch for the series. There is a lot of potential in Mercy #1 and I can't wait to see how this story develops.