No Mercy is a brand new series from Image, featuring a creative team of Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil, whom I admittedly don’t know much about, but the quote on the cover is from Brian K. Vaughn, praising the series. That must mean something good, right? Let’s take a look! Is it good?
No Mercy #1 (Image Comics)
Have you ever seen a horror movie that opens up with a bunch of people getting together to go on a trip and then something happens along the way that puts them all into mortal danger? Of course you have. Basically, that’s the summation of the story for the first issue. A bunch of just out of high school teens have arrived in a Central American country and are on their way to help rebuild some schools and then s--t happens to them.
Oh ho ho! This cartoony artwork fits this book like a glove!
No Mercy #1 strikes as just the stereotypical opening to a horror flick, with no real twist or hook to it. Sure, it goes for a much more normal and “real” scenario for a tale of survival and terror, but that’s about it. The first issue is just all about introducing your location and cast of victims/characters before the story then tosses them into the deep end. I honestly can’t say there is much going on here beyond that, with very little to chew on or find engrossing this early on.
With little story, one would hope the characters would hook you in, since they are going to be the major reason why you continue reading or not. Sadly though, no one really shines or stands out here in any way. A majority of the teens talk the same way, there’s no real defining moment that makes a character stand out besides some basic characterization (which feels pretty shallow at this point), and no one feels all that interesting or sympathetic. The only one who does is Charlene, but it feels artificially set up that way. Of course, this is early on and all, but I feel the writer tried to have too many characters at once and spread himself a bit too thin instead of just focusing on a few and expanding from there.
The writing on the book is fine though. The pacing is slow, but never really too slow and has a good buildup to it. Sure, you know this big disaster is coming, but you are on the edge of your seat as you wait for it. The characterization is basic and while you can get some idea of the characters’ personalities from their little bit of panel time, no one really stands out besides maybe the Nun. The dialogue is a bit grating in areas, and feels like it tries too hard to sound modern and hip (the same problem you see with Kieron Gillen a lot of the time). The older characters sound a bit more normal at least. That’s pretty much it though, since not a whole lot went down.
The artwork by Carla Speed Mcneil is probably the weakest part of the comic. Carla is not a bad artist at all, capable of drawing a nice, wide variety of characters and managing to make them all look unique. The layouts are decent looking and easy to follow, while the colors provided by Jenn Manley Lee look pretty nice. The biggest problem here is that this artwork really does not fit the comic remotely. For a book trying to be serious or have a much more “real” scenario like the cover quote says, this artwork is far too cartoonish and brightly colored to be appropriate. I mean, when the issue has a scene where a character gets all blustered and has cartoonish smoke coming out of her ears and in the same issue, the comic ends with a girl crying over the body of her friend in agony as coyotes in the distance can be seen watching, waiting to rip apart the corpse, there is something wrong here. This story and artwork are just not compatible from just this initial outing.
Is It Good?
No Mercy #1 is just not a comic I can recommend at this early stage. The story’s setup so far is just too generic and has no interesting twist or hook to it, no one stands out amongst these characters, and the artwork doesn’t fit the tone and feel this story is trying to convey. Unless you are fans of these types of stories or movies, just give this a pass for the time being.