‘Mercy:’ Trade Paperback Review

Mercy, written and illustrated by Mirka Andolo and originally published as a 6-issue limited series, focuses on the small mining village of Woodsburgh in the Victorian Age. The town is plagued by a creature (or creatures) killing innocents by tearing them open and eating their insides. Two mysterious strangers arrive in town, Lady Hellaine and Mr. Goodwill. They have secrets which become strained when a young orphan girl, Rory, comes into their lives. Also introduced are the widow and brothel owner Lady Swanson, siblings Jon and Betsy, and Native American creature hunters who are intent on destroying what has become known as the “Devil of Woodsburgh.”

The story unfolds like the pealing of an onion.  As the reader moves through each chapter, every layer becomes deeper and more intriguing. This is not an easy thing to convey in a comic book, but Andolo does a great job. The main characters, Hellaine and Goodwill, are fantastic. Their interactions with themselves, as well as the townsfolk, are really fun, especially a scene that takes place at dinner. The look into the life of the little orphan girl Rory, along with her religious attitudes, adds a dimension to the interplay of these characters, especially when they are forced to confront who they really are.

The artwork is fantastic! It truly brings life to the characters and the setting. Andolo’s art depicting the dark Gothic look of the Victorian Era is a sight to behold. Beautiful and engaging, there is no getting around the fact that it is the highlight of the series. In fact, there could be no dialogue, and the art would have been just as compelling. Absolutely wonderful.

As for the story itself, there were a number of problems. While there are great character moments with the main protagonists, I felt that the other characters were not given as much time as they deserved. Lady Swanson, for one, had been built up to be a much more important character than she ended up being. This isn’t to say that she didn’t play a role. The Native American creature hunters also would have been served by being fleshed out a bit. Honestly, there could have been a couple of extra chapters (or issues when originally published) that focused on the side characters which would have helped the overall narrative.

These problems could be overlooked, but one glaring issue stands out that runs through the entire series. The setting is supposed to be the Victorian Age, but none of the characters speak in the manner in which people did in that time. Besides the gratuitous swearing which is more relatable to a modern audience, there are phrases like “I get it.”  Sentences like this belong in the 21st century, not the 19th. To be fair to Mirika Andolo,  this is a problem that permeates most modern entertainment media right now, especially in TV shows and movies. That doesn’t make it right, though, and I wish the series had taken more effort to be historically accurate.

Overall, Mercy is an interesting adventure with great art and thought-provoking characters, making it worth reading.

3 out of 4 stars

Creative Team: Mirka Andolo (writer and artist)
Publisher: Image Comics
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