Mercy, the six-issue miniseries from Image Comics, is now collected in a single horrifying volume.

Writer and illustrator Mirka Andolfo, working with colour assistants Gianluca Papi, Francesca Carotenuto, and Chiara Di Francia, ramps up the horror in this tale of Woodsburgh, a mining village in the US, wayyy up near the Canadian border. It’s the days of horse and carriage, moustaches and monsters. There is an explosion and a series of brutal murders, and then the sudden arrival of lovely Lady Hellaine.

And ‘hell’ it is, as a young orphan girl figures Hellaine for her long lost mother, and other villagers plot and scheme to make the most of the new arrival. Romance? Finance? Revenge?

Produced in Italy, in Torino’s Arancia Studio, this volume is translated for the English audience. A few typos aside, the translation reads well and is mostly invisible to the telling of this shocking tale.

The illustrations are incredible! Cartoon (current 2D animation) style drawings with exaggerated eyes and far-flung gestures, mixed with ‘more-horrifying-than-Bernie-Wrightson’ scenes that will raise your hair and send you running for air. It’s blended back and forth in a seamless stew of airbrush, from willowy Victorian era atmospheres with gas lamps and manicured nails to ghastly scenes of bubbling entrails.

The concept is strong and the graphics are full-on frightening. However, Andolfo frequently loses the reader, in switching from character to character without clarifying her intent. We have a hard time remembering the cast list. Who is who, and why we should be reading about this person? Is there more coming from him or her, or are they extras? Are they important to us?

Another unfortunate limitation in our enjoyment of Mercy is Andolfo’s story breakdown. We become confused by the angle of a scene and need to stop and decipher it. Where is the editor? Hello? What are we looking at? Is that a foot or a branch, and what just happened? There are panels where the letterer (Fabio Amelia) gives us a sound effect to help us understand the action we are witnessing.

All in all though, if you are a horror fan, this should keep your pulse pounding and your eye sockets busy.
Not for the squeamish! Features an Artgerm cover and a bonus gallery of variant covers from the single issues.

Image, Arancia Studio, Mercy Trade Paperback, $16.99 for 196 pages. Mature: Horror

By Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!