MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Blackshaw

Mercy: Shake the World was originally published by DC Comics in 1993, written by J.M DeMatteis with illustrations by Paul Johnson. Whilst it is certainly more psychedelic than some of DC’s mainstream output, it does pose the question: what has Dover Publishing seen amidst its pages that is worth a revisit 20 years after its publication?

Mercy opens up on a stroke victim laid in hospital; he is motionless, silent and unable to communicate with the outside world. However, in his mind he is opening up new worlds and witnessing an omniscient figure affect the lives of people across the world - from a couple in London, via an old woman in the USA, to a young boy in the Amazon - but what is the intention of the figure and how do the people in the stroke victim’s mind link? Away from the original story, the readers are given access to excerpts from the outline, production art and page layouts with original sketches and an afterword from Art Young, the original editor of the piece.

What makes Mercy another refreshing republication from Dover Publishing is you realise what distinguishes this work from others at the time. Firstly, its narrative makes no use of dialogue between characters at all; it is purely prose. This is effective for two reasons: one is that it distinguishes Mercy from mainstream works, as its lack of dialogue makes you focus on the story without detracting attention from the characters. Secondly, it heightens the idea that the protagonist of the story is lost amongst his own thoughts after his stroke, which reminds the reader throughout the story that this all takes place in someone’s mind.

Secondly, the artwork is rendered beautifully, its vibrant colours and hazy outlines give that dream-like feel throughout the story, as if you never see this images in their true definition like you would in a dream; this is much more thought-out than just visualising the story from word onto the page.

Dover Publishing has done it again; they have selected a significant piece of work from the archives of a major comics company and they have demonstrated retrospectively why it is an important piece of work which needs to be remembered. It has a narrative which develops an unconventional story and artwork which is not only engaging but challenges the status quo of comic design. It’s a piece of work which shows how this much cherished industry must continue to evolve and can do so successfully.

MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD / AUTHOR: J.M. DEMATTEIS / ARTIST: PAUL JOHNSON / PUBLISHER: DOVER PUBLICATIONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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