Another week, another new Image #1 gracing the shelves. This week’s new title is No Mercy, coming to us from creators Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil. The first issue lives up to the title and the series is well on its way to standing proud next to Image’s best.
No Mercy is the story of a group of incoming Princeton freshmen on a humanitarian trip to Central America. The teens are going to build schools in a poor village and hopefully bond with their future classmates. From the outset, there’s a sense of impending dread. Sister Inés, the nun escorting the students to the site, is already keeping secrets from the group. There’s a shifty man claiming to be her uncle joining them on the bus. It’s not long before disaster strikes, leaving the students stranded and in a dangerous desert.
Alex de Campi is in complete control here, guiding the story expertly through the set up. There’s not a lot happening in this issue to move the overall story forward, but the attention paid to the diverse cast more than makes up for that. This is especially impressive considering the cast in the book is already 15 characters. Though each character only has a few panels, they are already distinct people and readers will understand their personalities easily.
The book absolutely nails the intended tone, capturing the overarching sense of dread on top of the inherent teenage drama. It’s an interesting mix of darkness and emojis, but it’s that combination that makes the book unique. De Campi sprinkles hints at the dangers throughout the story, including one impressive instance of foreshadowing utilizing the group’s social media page. The issue gets its claws in you early and refuses to let go.
Though this is my first exposure to McNeil’s work, it’s immediately obvious that she is the perfect artist for this book. She captures the spirit and personality of each member of the teenage cast. Her work goes a long way toward making each of the characters feel fully-realized in the space of a few panels. As impressive as her character design is,its her panel layouts that impressed me the most. The layouts are reflective of the action in the story, fully immersing the reader in the tense moments. They draw your eyes organically through the story, breaking the traditional grid layout in multiple instances. Colorist Jenn Manley Lee brings it all together with a beautiful desert-inspired palette. The sky during sunset is especially entrancing and I think this is the first time I’ve gone back just to admire the sky in a panel.
No Mercy #1 is a great book. That’s all there really is to it. It’s at once gorgeous and terrifyingly realistic. If you missed the first issue, try and track this one down. Then add the rest of the miniseries to your pull list because you won’t want to miss what’s next.