A man of means, with everything to live for, finds himself in a coma. At 54, he’s had a stroke that has left him in limbo. He floats along, out of his body, amused and perplexed by all the fuss still being made over him in hospital. While in limbo, he becomes ever more familiar with an entity of great power. He observes. He gives it a sex and a name, Mercy. He concludes that Mercy is fully self-contained and yet she repeatedly ventures back down to Earth to help. It’s totally altruistic. But why do it?

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, and artwork by Paul Johnson, “Mercy: Shake the World” is the sort of graphic novel that Will Eisner would have appreciated. As was his understanding, since life really begins after 50, many a graphic novel will be created with a more mature and worldly reader in mind. This is just that kind of work. “Mercy” is unafraid to let it all hang out when it comes to asking the big questions and not caring so much for the answers. It’s like we’re somehow past that, so beyond just seeking wisdom here.

Our main character is totally free to see as much of the big picture as he chooses. He doesn’t gorge himself on insight. He’s along for the ride, has all the time in the world. Enlightenment is inevitable. So, he takes it slow and easy. He’ll take Mercy any way it comes.

This is a beautifully rendered work. Johnson’s artwork is in touch with the ethereal just as much as DeMatteis’s script. Nothingness. Emptiness. You can go anywhere from there. From nothing to everything. Graphic novels are a perfect venue with which to ponder and expound upon the metaphysical. And here you have a fine example of just that. Our Everyman, with one foot in our world and the other in the netherworld, is neither hero nor villain. He’s just trying, before too long, to find out what all the fuss is about.

“Mercy: Shake the World,” a 128-page trade paperback in full color, with extras, is published by Dover Publications, and available as of June 17, 2015. Visit our friends at Dover Publications right here. And you can also find “Mercy: Shake the World” at Amazon right here.


Filed under Comics, Dover Publications, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Will Eisner

6 responses to “Review: MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD

  1. Jay

    This sounds amazing.

    • Yes! I was starting to form a post within a post about this book. Will Eisner said that his later work was intended for older and wiser readers. Not that younger readers wouldn’t enjoy it too but the temperament in his work was older and wiser. So, leave it to Eisner Award-winning writer J.M. DeMatteis to pen this graphic novel.

  2. Sounds like a fascinating read on a number of levels.

    • Yes, plenty to contemplate over. And it’s another example of how graphic novels continue to evolve and expand readership.

      • I dig the fact that it makes metaphysical concepts available to a more visually oriented audience. Again it’s harks me back to the Japanese Zen Buddhist scrolls that could educate on such things allegorically and symbolically. So literacy wasn’t necessarily a barrier to spiritual enlightenment. In many ways the teachings go deeper into the psyche because of the way our subconscious responds to symbols and images.

      • Good points, Lee. This story does embrace quiet moments. But, for this particular story, both the written description and the dialogue are essential.

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