Review - No Mercy #1

"I mean, it was a stupid idea anyway."

Field trips in school were generally some of the best days. It gave students a chance to get out of school--even if just for a day--and explore parts of the world that might not otherwise be explored. Most of the times those trips happen without incident, but there are some occasions where things seem to go bad real quick. No Mercy #1 from Image Comics is one such tale. The issue is written by Alex de Campi, illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil and colored by Jenn Manley Lee.

It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them.

If there's one complaint about youths of today it's that they sometimes seem even more flippant about things happening than what's expected from youths in general. That attitude tends to be exacerbated by social media and de Campi isn't shy about working that into No Mercy #1 as a very effective means of characterizing the main characters are completely naive about what they're getting into. de Campi does a brilliant job of subtly weaving in many of the youths' attention to their devices and social media as a mechanism for advancing the story, providing their viewpoints of the events without them necessarily over-narrating. The plot is made much clearer by the end of the issue, even if the first three-fourths of the issue feels a little like reading a Real World comic book. de Campi's dialogue effectively captures the frenetic energy that accompanies a bunch of students on the verge of attending college on a field trip though.

There's an interesting finish to McNeil's linework that boasts characters defined by sharp angles mixed with rounded faces. Many of the panels feature only the characters and not much in the way of background, but it does lend a certain scrapbook quality to the book that fits within the context of the characters' lives. McNeil handles the crowded panels very well. Her panel layout towards the end of the issue particularly effective at showcasing a very chaotic incident. The way she mixes the panels together feels scattered and random, but the presentation works for the events in the book.

No Mercy #1 is an interesting first issue that ends with a lot of questions and really little indication as to what answers will come forth in response. The kids have stumbled into a conspiracy of sorts and are forced to contend with being in a foreign country with little to no ability to survive on their own. de Campi's story moves along at an impressive clip and feels like the steady ascent on a roller coaster before the massive drop. McNeil's illustrations are strong and buoyed by Lee's color choices, which infuse the book with an 80s high school sensibility. No Mercy #1 features a wide array of characters, all of whom are poised to have to band together and overcome differences in order to survive what will likely be quite an ordeal.

No Mercy #1 is in stores now.