Mercy #5 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer, artist, and colorist Mirka Andolfo, colorists Gianluca Papi and Francesca Carotenuto, and letterer Fabio Amelia. The issue begins with a flashback. A young Betsy witnesses horrific experiments being done to a pregnant woman. Then, as the perspective shifts back to the present it is revealed that she has been infected with the same parasite as Hellaine and Goodwill. She holds her brother Jon, killed by Lady Hellaine at the end of the last issue, and begins to take on a monstrous form.
As this is happening, the remaining hunters have come back to Lady Swanson’s home and informed her of Hellaine’s true nature. As she begins to panic the group learns that someone has set Swanson’s brothel ablaze. Meanwhile, upstairs, Hellaine and Swanson’s son share an intimate moment in secret. But this moment is not meant to last and soon the tension comes to a deadly boiling point.
With Mercy #5 the story has taken a strange, if not still compelling, turn. The revelation of Betsy being a parasite seems rather out of left field. Compounded with all of the characters acting at the same time, the issue begins to feel a bit cluttered. Thankfully, the pacing is strong and the characters and their motivations compelling. A lesser series may have crumbled under the strain that Andolfo puts on the narrative. But here, it is more of a stumble if anything. Furthermore, the more that is revealed about these parasites, the more interesting they become. I only wish we could have learned this earlier in the series to give these later issues some more breathing room.
Andolfo’s art, on the other hand, never misses a beat. This issue contains some of the most gruesome and disturbing images of the entire series, and that really brings home the horrific nature of the tale. There are so many gorgeous panels that all serve to highlight how talented of an artist she is. Whether those panels feature bulbous parasitic growths bursting out of a person’s face, or a moonlit bedroom. Everything is drawn and colored with grace and beauty. Amelia’s letters, particularly the over the top SFX, are also commendable and add to the visceral quality of the book.
While the story in Mercy #5 suffers a few missteps, it is built on a strong enough foundation that I still found it immensely compelling. When paired with Andolfo and her assistants’ beautiful art it is truly elevated. I, once again, find myself eagerly looking forward to next month to see what happens next in this gorgeous, messy tale.
Mercy #5 is available now, wherever comic books are sold.
I, once again, find myself eagerly looking forward to next month to see what happens next in this gorgeous, messy tale