I’ve been battling a blogging slump since the beginning of this year and it recently became worse, so my posting hasn’t been consistent lately, and I’m behind on many reviews. Actually, the comics I’m discussing in this post were read way earlier this year, in March and April. So, due to those factors, my thoughts on them might not be as detailed as usual.
Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy: The Fair Lady, the Frost, and the Fiend by Mirka Andolfo (illus.), transl. from the Italian by Arancia Studio
The story is set in a small town in Washington state during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century. The Swanson family controls the town and seems to run everything, even the brothels. In the prologue, the Swansons seem to have found a portal in one of the gold mines through which monsters can enter. These monsters can take on human form, and some of them are already in the world — a group of Native Americans hunt them.
When the story begins, we learn that something is going around town killing people. Also, two strangers have come to town, Lady Hellaine and her butler, Goodwill. There’s something odd about Lady Hellaine, who seems taken by Lady Swanson’s oldest son, but Lady Swanson is suspicious of her. Others are also interested in Lady Hellaine: To Jonathan, a young Black man, she resembles a former lover, but Rory, a destitute orphan who’s quite pious, believes Lady Hellaine is her mother. It also seems that Goodwill controls Lady Hellaine, but as her memories return, Lady Hellaine begins to make plans of her own. (Goodreads)
My thoughts (some spoilers)
This one was a cover buy, but unfortunately, the story didn’t work for me. It was an entertaining read and could have been really good, but for that it needed to be more than one volume. There’s a lot that wasn’t fully fleshed out or explained, which left me feeling lost or sometimes losing interest. For example, I’d love to know more about the group that hunts the monsters. How did that start? When did they realize that eating parts of the monsters fills them with strength?
It also strongly reminded me of Monstress, since it centers on a young woman who has an insatiable monster inside her. The difference is that the protagonist in Monstress at first isn’t aware of the monster, whereas in Mercy, the monster is dominant and the returning memories of its human host begin to influence it. It’s as if it puts a twist on the concept for Monstress, which is cool, but I would have liked if it was longer than one volume. I’d like to know more about the portals as well… Maybe what it needs is a prequel.
Anyway, this one is for mature readers (there are some sexy scenes) and those who don’t mind seeing blood and gore flying around.
I love it. The cover is what made me purchase a copy, and I was glad that the art inside is similar to it (they are by the same artist) because I’ve been misled many times by cover art. I love Andolfo’s art style. The illustrations are gorgeous, so although the story didn’t really work for me, I’ll be keeping my copy of the comic book because I love the art.
However, I didn’t like the monsters. They were so disgusting! I think Andolfo did a great job drawing them and making them repulsive, as they should be, but ugh! I shuddered whenever I saw them on the page. They are gruesome.
It’s beautiful to look at and has an interesting concept, but it didn’t work out for me.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I always think beautiful illustrations are worth looking at.
If you like this, you might like…
MONSTRESS, VOL. 1: AWAKENING BY MARJORIE LIU, ILLUS. BY SANA TAKEDA
…if the whole “monster trapped inside me leads to identity crisis and various moral dilemmas” interests you. Monstress is a high-fantasy comic book series about a young woman with a monster trapped inside her trying to find out about her past.
Copperhead, Vol. 1 by Jay Faerber, illus. by Scott Godlewski
…if a small, remote town setting with some “wild West” influences and a tinge of mystery interests you. Copperhead is a sci-fi comic about a sheriff, who’s a single mom, assigned to a mining town on a backwater planet, where a lot of shady dealings are going on.
The October Faction, Vol. 1 by Steve Niles, illus. by Damien Worm
The October Faction details the adventures of retired monster-hunter Frederick Allan and his family… which include a thrill-killer, a witch, and a warlock. Because sometimes crazy is the glue that binds a family together. (Goodreads)
It’s weird, but although I enjoyed October Faction much more than I did Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy, I remember less details about October Faction. I guess it’s because I watched the TV-show adaptation on Netflix shortly after completing this first volume and disliked it so much that I blotted out all details of the story, including what I read in the comic book.
Oh well. That just means I’ll just have to reread the comic book, which is not a problem at all.
In this first volume, we are introduced to the Allan family: Fredrick, who teaches a class at the local college (I assume it’s a college class), his wife, daughter, and son, who seems able to see ghosts. Someone from Fredrick’s past also pops up in this volume to chat about the old days, which is how we learn that Fredrick is a retired monster hunter.
I like the slow build in this volume. It takes its time to introduce us to the characters and give us an idea of their relationship dynamics and glimpses of their pasts to get a sense of what motivates them. Overlaying all this is a sense of mystery as we wonder what several other characters are really up to, if the Allan house is haunted, and what’s up with the Frankenstein-looking dude.
I had such a great time reading it that I began watching the show shortly after completing this first volume. But the show was disappointing. It lacked the dark, haunting atmosphere of the comic as well as the sense of mystery that made me want to quickly get the next volume. Although I watched the entire series and was sometimes entertained, I thought the comic book had a stronger beginning and was more skillful at keeping the audience’s attention. All the angst and drama in the show bogged down the plot, I think.
Anyway, the comic book has a dark, creepy quality about it that would make it a great Halloween read.
The haunting atmosphere of the story is emphasized by the illustrations, which I think of as dark, spiky, angular, and smudged.
Worm’s art style isn’t one that appeals to me, but it works so well for this story that I love it. I love how detailed the illustrations are when conveying facial expressions and how the colors used for certain scenes help to convey and emphasize the mood of those scenes. It helps to make the story very atmospheric — very dark and gloomy and haunting, so much so that the mood seem to threaten to seep out the pages. And everything helps to convey this: the story, the illustrations, and even the typography. I love it when all parts of a comic work so well together. I wish the show was as cohesive.
It’s a strong start that has me eager to see what will come next.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
It’s worth getting the comic, but maybe skip the show? The show is OK, if you’re checking it out as its own thing rather than a direct adaptation of the comic book.
If you like this, you might like…
Manor Black, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, illus. by Tyler Crook
…if the dark, haunting, creepy atmosphere appeals to you and the mystery about what exactly is going on with the characters. Manor Black first volume isn’t as strong as October Faction, but it is an interesting, darkly entertaining read too. It’s about the moribund patriarch of a powerful family of blood sorcerers who takes in an outsider to offer her protection.
Wytches, Vol. 0: Bad Egg, Halloween Special by Scott Snyder, illus. by Jock with colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Serving as both a standalone story in the Wytches world and a prequel to the highly anticipated Wytches, Vol. 2, “Bad Egg” tells the story of Seb and Jackson — two innocent teenagers reared on opposite sides of the eternal struggle between good and evil. Sebastian’s mother is a member of “the Irons,” the most ruthless Wytch hunters in history, while Jackson’s family are “High Horn” Wytches. Can these two boys find friendship amidst this age-old blood feud, or are their fates already sealed? (Goodreads)
That Goodreads synopsis does a good job telling just enough of what the story is about. I consider Bad Egg a prequel to Wytches, Vol. 1, which I liked, but I read it so long ago now (in 2016) that I fail to see how Bad Egg ties in to the first volume, other than to feature kids being pledged, horrible wytches in the woods, and the wytch hunters after them.
Unfortunately, this was not a great read for me. It wasn’t as interesting or entertaining as Wytches, Vol. 1, and reading it was a bit tedious too. I just wasn’t interested in the characters and highly disliked Seb’s mom for what she did to Seb toward the end (such a horrible trick; poor kid).
Bad Egg is only about 80 pages, so it’s a very quick read, but because I wasn’t feeling it, it dragged and took a longer time to complete. Although I didn’t like it much, I still eagerly look forward to Wytches, Vol. 2.
I still like Jock’s illustrations and the splatter effect applied to the colors, which is caused by applying “watercolor and liquid acrylic on watercolor paper” (from my review of volume 1).
I wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t feeling it at all, but I still like the illustrations.
12 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #66: Three Dark Comics”
I always hoped that Wytches would get more volumes written by Snyder but I guess other projects were more interesting for him since! This does make me want to reread the original volume though. 😀
It made me feel the same actually. I think the wytches were spookier in that first volume.
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Ohhh Mercy’s cover & art loos so gorgeous!! I’m not sure if the story would work for me either however.
It has so much potential. I wish it was more than one volume so the story would have had more time to develop.
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Oof yes I see what you mean!
What about the October Faction TV show didn’t work for you? I keep looking at it and thinking of trying it.
I think it’s because I wanted it to be more like the comic but instead it reminded me too much of shows I’d see on the CW channel. I think as its own thing, the show is okay, if you don’t mind teen drama, which is how I think of it. Also, it wasn’t renewed for a season 2.
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