No Mercy #1
Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Colors: Jenn Manley Lee
This book has been out for a while now, and I have been meaning to discuss it, but due to this and that it ended up taking a while. I apologize for the delay. Alex de Campi gets two write ups in 4 days though so that's great! It's almost like I'm a fan... oh wait I am. Well just for the sake of time, if you would like to see more of her killer work, view the last post on Archie vs. Predator #1. Carla Speed McNeil has worked on all sorts of out of the box titles such as Finder, Mythography, and stories for Dark Horse Presents. It is very interesting seeing her style added to a story that is more or less realistic. There is a level of belief in what's happening in this tale, and that is thanks to the atmosphere and chemistry of this creative team.
No Mercy focuses on a group of students who have traveled to Central America (to a location de Campi has chosen not to specify yet) to build schools. The class, chaperoned by a man named Murray, is to be brought to their location by bus, as the regular paths/airport are not safe to visitors. A nun named Ines who will be leading them through the area brings them to their jerry-rigged bus, much to the students disappointment. The trip begins after a shady traveler joins the bus and everything is on schedule. However, the roads are treacherous and with numerous twists and bends, anything could happen when travelling.
De Campi has a whole class to work with here, and gives each member a different (sometimes conflicting) personality. While some are appreciating the trip for the good work they are there to do, others are using it as a way to get more followers and likes, adding a further filter of realism. The danger which ends up befalling this group is entirely natural, producing a dangerous and real threat. There is also a ton of foreshadowing and groundwork expertly laid for characters which will emerge in the future. These kids have a rough go ahead of them, and it will be written perfectly be de Campi.
Carla Speed McNeil uses character models which accurately match each of the personality types. Whether the class member is sort of dorky or cool as a cucumber, they are dressed to match. Some of the teens draw the eye a little bit more, particularly a fellow with red hair and a scarf, however this is an intentional choice that further exemplifies the aforementioned personality types. The environments are all made as foreign to us as they are to the class. Starting in a grassy landscape, they find themselves with more arid and desolate mountain surrounding the further they travel, as if building up to the tragedy ahead. McNeil's linework, especially on the eyes, gives the characters a certain indie feel which I was really into. Credit where credit is due, Jenn Manley Lee's colors manage to push everything I have mentioned a bit further. She also uses vibrant colors that bring a touch of surrealism to an otherwise realistic story, helping to brighten the tone of the danger and preventing the shocking conclusion from being too dark.
"OMG how sad. They were all so young." That is the caption under a Facebook photo of the group on the second page. It is also showing us what is coming our way. The descent of this class is a tragic mystery that will be intriguing the whole way. The issue starts with a slow burn, but it is clear that de Campi, McNeil, and Lee have a plan for this. The first issue of this series came out on 4/1 and costs $2.99. It is still available in some stores and online, find it and give it a read.