Boy did I show up to this party late.
Seeing this cross our list of review options, I saw issue 14, and moved on – figuring I’d be hard pressed to dig in mid story. Turns out, it’s actually the end of the story, with enough hints to make me very, very curious as to what the events preceding this issue might be. How did we get here, who are these characters, and why does this feel like the end of a novel, instead of a comic?
Before we dive into the merits and problems, let me say something about Image Comics in general; born in the time of variant covers and creator ownership of spandex clad X-Men rip-offs, Image has become an amazing platform for the types of stories you can’t get anywhere else.
Sequential art, as I say a lot on these reviews, is unique. It’s American invented, and the ability to unravel a storyboard like narrative can tell a tale unlike most others. Add in Image’s ability to find properties that are quirky and weird and not involving multi-series crossover bullshit, and you can get the kind of quiet moments that we see here – people talking, people looking to get drunk to burn off anxiety. Humanity – ugly and beautiful – drawn and lettered.
No Mercy #14 is the wrap up issue of a harrowing accident series. The short – teenagers graduate, go on a trip together, and barely survive. Some come home, some die there. There are animal encounters, kidnappings, and a whole lot of scary ass s--t for an 18 year old to deal with.
No Mercy #14 (Image Comics)
Oh, and if they survive? College in the Fall.
This issue is standalone, and is a moment’s rest in the aftermath of all the above mayhem. It’s about kids, a small home town, and an upcoming deadline to leave the nest and go to college.
Reading this brought me back fully to my first day of college. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get there, excited to unpack and leave behind all the small town bits and pieces I no longer needed. Now, as a Dad, I can only imagine how scary and sad it will be to see my boys leave home.
This issue captures both sides of that narrative — local friends both excited and jealous of your new adventure. Parents excited at their child growing up, and also sad at losing them to another home.
Having not read the earlier issues, but by looking at them and seeing how bad s--t seems to get – I’m oddly glad I started here. This pause, this eye of the otherwise hurricane, is what Image does best. That above mentioned humanity, only inked and paneled.
I’ll give this issue an 8 out of 10 – and I’m sure I’d have scored it higher if I knew who these characters were a little bit better. You can bet I’ll be scooping up the trades for review, to really find out the backstory.
Side note – as gorgeous as the artwork is, I want to call out a small point of design that I think is genius. As one of our main characters is deaf, and only reads lips, pay close attention to his facial orientation in most panels, and how that affects the lettering, or the fact that T and D make the same lip motions. God damn great touch, and better conveys the process of reading lips better than anything else I’ve seen.