Mercury Heat #1
Story: Kieron Gillen
Art: Omar Francia
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
The date is 2015... May 2nd, 2015 to be precise. On the shelves amongst the other Free Comic Book Day issues is the preview of this series by Avatar which instantly intrigued me with a strong lead character and striking visuals. Fast forward to July 15th, and the tease is over with Mercury Heat officially getting released! Now, sci-fi is really big in comics right now. Some series pull it off very well, some don't, and others are just sort of there. This book is absolutely pulling it off. Besides being a unique story on it's own, Mercury Heat is also a bit of a new direction for Avatar to go in, as there aren't a ton of science fiction stories under the publications belt. The series is written by Kieron Gillen who at this point everyone is well aware of. The man is a force of nature in this industry, has written a ton of exceptional stories including (but far from limited to) Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers, Phonogram, Thor, Darth Vader, and of course, The Wicked & The Divine. He has quite the knack for creating characters that feel true to the story and totally unique. Omar Francia draws this fine entry to the sci-fi genre. One of the big draws to this series picking it up was that the world looked similar to Mass Effect... which makes sense because Francia has drawn some of those as well as some Star Wars titles and even Arrow and Legends of the Dark Knight. Listen to me babbling on... let's get to the book.
Mercury Heat takes place on a mysterious planet (jk, it's Mercury... which is still pretty mysterious) that gets mined for it's resources and houses a community of workers. The planet has a wide variety of struggles, from the intense weather to the extreme temperatures to murders and various other crimes, it's a miracle the station has stayed functional. Luiza Bora, a woman from Earth with training primarily as a cop, has transferred to a different area of the planet for a new start. After being implanted with "crystals" which provide information and memories on her surroundings, Luiza consults the A.I., Grapevine, to find an occupation. She knows exactly what she wants to be, and immediately selecting the severely underpaid police position she finds herself thrown into a case. A murder occurred recently, with fishy circumstances and some questionable evidence, she is determined to get to the bottom of it. What the murderers DON'T know is that Luiza has quite the ace up her sleeve.
Gillen has created a sprawling area to explore, consisting of corridors and barracks which ignite the imagination as well as grandiose machinery with undefined purpose. We also immediately catch a glimpse into the technology of this future time period. Between the memory crystals, Grapevine, the Mercury settlement itself, and various other devices/abilities we see not only that civilization is advanced, but that some of the advancements may be doing more harm then good. For the most part Luiza works alone in this issue, these moments give us the chance to see her stronger, independent side. However, as the issue progresses and she begins to deal with some of the bottom of the barrel employees and criminals, it becomes obvious that she is more than just confident. There is also a cool effect that Gillen has used for exposition in this story. Instead of regular text boxes, context is given through pop up windows and alerts, providing a very fresh take on that practice.
Francia's art does a lot of thins very successfully. Primarily, he creates a space environment that I NEED to see more of, and he draws one kickass lady. We'll start with those environments. All area's are far from romanticizing space travel/life in space, rather they are more along the same lines as the functional rig, the Nostromo. Everything has a purpose and although not every curious set pieces is defined to us, it is obvious that these interiors were carefully planned. Onto the characters: each person that is seen on this ship, whether they are from one panel in the distance or show up throughout the book, shows some serious definition. For as much detail as is present in the environments, the same could easily be said about the character models, perhaps more so. Facial and body toning provide [mostly] realistic forms and give a greater definition of the characters even down to the level of bone structure. The visuals are eye catching already, but once Luiza puts on her police armor, you can tell it's about to go down. Looking formidable she participates in some fantastic fight scenes, complete with moments that might even make you cringe a little bit.
Mercury Heat is filling a different section of the sci-fi genre than many of the other books currently on the shelves. The Kieron Gillen's storytelling is very modernistic and provides a great amount of detail to make you feel like you know the character but there is still more to learn, while Omar Francia's art makes the metallic surroundings and the characters that inhabit them pop, with almost a flair of 80's action sequences. Luiza Bora's investigations is just beginning, and I can't wait to tag along. This first issue came out on July 15th and costs $3.99. There are a whole mess of great covers to choose from too!