It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them.
Personal Enjoyment: ●●●●○
Writing Quality: ●●●○○
Art Quality: ●●●○○
When I picked up No Mercy, I highly doubted this would be the scary story everyone at the comic book store had hyped it up to be. The bright colors, the whimsical art-style, the fact that half the dialogue in the first pages is made up of emojis– how bad could it be? But I forgot something about color: the brighter the light, the easier it is to see the blood!
This comic book series is more intriguing so me than anything. There is a sense of humor, whimsy, and giddiness in the storytelling that feels irreverent. There is a lot of death and gore to go around; characters die off before your eyes almost as quickly as they are introduced. But the ladies behind No Mercy practically serve you a dead body topped with sprinkles and whipped cream. It’s impish and cheeky and surprisingly appealing.
However, where the emoji dialogue and colorful cartoony style were endearing, some things missed the mark by a wide margin. There are occasional spelling errors, the most notable being one instance where, I assume, “gonna” was spelled “finna” (a really common autocorrect mistake). I think it was an intentional spelling error, and it’s not entirely out of place, but I thought it was unnecessary and awkward to read.
In the first issue we are introduced to all of the characters right before everything goes to hell rather suddenly. There’s a whole lot of heart behind the characters. One girl is sweet and intelligent and also heavily abused by her twin brother. Another boy is completely deaf, and a handful of pages are beautifully illustrated to portray lip-reading and sign language. Unfortunately, I only got a small taste before too many kids died off. It felt futile to try to remember their names or care about them at all.
There are definitely issues with pacing– most notable when dealing with the characters, as I mentioned, but also in the plot. It’s difficult to summarize the story so far because it all feels disjointed. I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the story, or if there is even a destination in mind. It all feels like everyone is going to die pointlessly, but we’ll have a rollicking good time watching it happen. I would really like to see more cohesion in future installments.
The backmatter, the final few pages of the comic where you can sometimes find advertisements or letters to the team, follows the same theme as the rest of the series. Every issue, you can find an emoji-recap of the issue before. Readers send in stories of their world-travelling-gone-awry. It’s satisfying in the same way roasting s’mores over a campfire at the end of a long day of hiking is satisfying. In a way, No Mercy is the kind of scary story you’d tell around that campfire, and in the end we’re all reminded it’s just a story, and we’re grateful it didn’t happen to us.
No Mercy, Vol. 1, collecting issues #1-4, will be out on September 16, 2015.