What happens when self entitled teenagers go abroad and have to face reality on a nightmarish level they never thought they would ever experience? Read on to find out!
The official description from Image:
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.
As an avid reader of all things comics I rarely get a chance to experience a new title without knowing something about it or having some sort of expectations going in. So it’s nice when a book like No Mercy #1 comes across my review plate and I have no idea what lies ahead until I turn the first page. Alex De Campi throws at the reader a cacophony of teenager noise and drama. Texting, cell phones, talking over each other, flirting, bullying, jumping from idea to idea at breakneck speed. It’s chaos and true to life.
This group of teens are on a trip to build some schools in Latin America (#LatinAdventure). De Campi intentionally writes the teenager’s drama as the drama that drives, No Mercy #1, a story free of vampires, monsters, magic or talking animals. The dialogue is quick and energetic and mostly mundane teenage interaction but it still spells out the nature of this trip. It also spells out the dangers and harsh conditions that these kids have no idea are coming.
Even though this groups is going to help those less fortunate to build schools they are also ill prepared Americans to their surroundings and expectations. Of note is when the kids must ride a bus 10 hours from the airport to their destination. They automatically expect to jump aboard a charter bus that sits waiting only to find out their bus is a rickety old school bus where their bags must be tied to the top for travel. It’s a rude awaking but it’s also just the tip of what is sure to be a very large iceberg.
Carla Speed McNeil has a unique challenge illustrating the teenage melee that De Campi lays out and she does it beautifully. The opening panels make certain characters stand out among the mass crowd at the airport but still makes it feel crowded. She also manages to make the cramped school bus feel incredibly claustrophobic with close-ups and constantly changes angles and points of view. She manages to make a very pedestrian walk to a bus, then riding on a bus feel very engaging.
The one anchor to this story is Sister Ines and if it wasn’t difficult enough to deal with a group of American teens she also has to deal with her Uncle Tito. His interaction with Ines ensures the reader that he is up to no good and that the wheels of the bus are about to come off. Sister Ines is the anchor that serves at the heart of the narrative. The slow reveal of dangers seems mostly innocuous at first but by the end things have spiraled shockingly out of control.
De Campi sets us up and knocks us down just as quickly. It’s a surprising turn of events and was the real payoff of No Mercy #1. It’s a very solid start and the next issue is set-up for even more action and drama. It’s an interesting look at how American teens view their place in a foreign land and how quickly that noticed turned on it’s head, chewed up and spit out. No Mercy #1 is a premise based in reality that turns into a thriller as quickly as teenage drama crumbles to an unimaginable hell. Highly recommended.