by J. M. Dematteis (Author), Paul Johnson (Illustrator), Art Young (Afterword)
Publisher: Dover Graphic Novels

We sometimes take for granted the wonderful medium of comic books. We tend to fall into circles of repetition of superheroes and heroines, of collapsing world’s and their inevitable recreation. We comment on every story misfire, feel every art glitch as if it’s a personal slight. We recognise the things we are comfortable with and feel disappointed if that expected comfort is not reached.

Yes, we take for granted that comics can be so much more and when they aim to be, they very rarely fail.

J.M. DeMatteis’ work first passed through my hands with that infamous issue of Star Wars. At the time, being 10 year-old, I didn’t know who had written it and the controversy that had been caused.  Fast forward you have Kraven’s Last Hunt and of course his work on Justice League. So to say he has been around the block and is a versatile writer are both understatements. Mercy is yet another example of that versatility.

Mercy features stream of consciousness, looking for a mixture of answers, clarity whilst waiting in a grey limbo world. Through this world, Mercy appears and we follow along to see how expected help is refused, adding to confusion, a failure of faith not met and the eventual realization of the support and care given. DeMatteis writes a compelling story that is intriguing at the start before generating genuine concern for a number of characters.

The art is supplied by Paul Johson and suits the book well. At first glance I am reminded of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth. But looking closer, the similarities are superficial. Yes the colours have a painted look and yes it’s scratchy in places, but it is the scratchy style with edges that bleed in to the backgrounds that creates strong images throughout.

This book was originally printed back in 1993 for the DC imprint Vertigo and fits that style well.  Reading the book now, it is apparent that DC has missed a trick with how it has treated Vertigo recently, moving books like Swamp Thing and Hellblazer into the nu 52, which were big pulls in attracting superhero fans to the imprint, before wowing them with books like this and Sandman for example.

As it is, this books is a fantastic example of how comic books don’t always have to be about the cape and cowl crowd.

Purchase a copy here

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