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MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD

 

If you have a hankering to go back to the days of the Prestige Graphic Novel era, when the major publishers were putting known writers on books with these fantastic painters and illustrators, then Dover Publications is where you want to be.  This book, Mercy: Shake The World, originally published by DC/Vertigo in 1993, was written by noted funny man J.M. DeMatteis (who states he was trying to reach out of his comfort zone for this book) and illustrated by Paul Johnson, who was starting to make a name for himself at that time before becoming disillusioned with the American comic market and leaving it completely. 

The book opens with a man who is lying prone on a hospital bed.  A victim of a debilitating stroke, he is left in a coma with only his unconscious mind to tell us what he sees as he waits to die.  And as he lays there, his mind and spirit wander.  He begins to travel to far lands and see all sorts of different people.  A family in Richmond, a young man in the jungle, and old lady in Brooklyn.  And all the while, a calming presence in all their lives that is set to stave off the horrors of the world.  A spirit in the shape of a woman he names Mercy.   

The writing on this book is definitely unlike anything DeMatteis has normally written.  If you're a fan of his work it will be a little jarring to read.  There's no real dialogue here, just a man narrating different situations.  What he sees when he is watching over the world from his coma and how he follows this woman, this spirit, Mercy, who stands out to protect people from the horrors and questions they face. And how each of these situations affects him and his current state of "unbeing." Once he gets into every setting it works fairly well, but the transitions and the opening setup don't work as well and are tough to get through.  

 

MERCY Artwork

 

The real reason to stick around on the book though is Paul Johnson's artwork, which is so good it really makes you upset he disappeared from the comic book scene for so long.  The book is just beautifully illustrated.  Johnson shows great range in telling pieces that are so varied in location and character that permeate the book, but when he's really allowed to stretch himself out and do more collage-style work on the page rather than standard comic book panels the book just hums.  

There's a reason this book was never reprinted by DC.  It falls outside of almost everything they look to keep in print.  It doesn't have any superheroes or even franchise characters.  Its prestige look probably made it expensive to print (and it most likely came with a high price point that scared off consumers) and it doesn't flow like just about anything else being published.  Of course, none of that make it a bad read.  It just isn't for people who like the standard style of book.  But if you do enjoy the painted prestige formats that have fallen by the wayside, this is one for you to pick up.  And if nothing else, here's hoping that the release of this book brings Paul Johnson back to comics, we've certainly missed him.

3 out of 5

 

Have you read Mercy: Shake The World? Sound off below!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

Number One Bullet Reviews: August 19, 2015

Number One Bullet Reviews: August 12, 2015

Number One Bullet Reviews: August 5, 2015

 

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