Once upon a time, there was a young, strong, yet beautiful princess named Alex, who just loved Hack/Slash. So much so, that every single issue of the main run was consumed within a fairly short period of time, despite that princess’s intense hatred of the Samhain character. So much, in fact, that she even read every single one of the crossover issues.
It was through one of these crossovers that I was introduced to a character called Mercy Sparx. Within the two-part A Slice of Hell crossover, Mercy not only showed that she could kick an absolutely insane amount of ass, she showed that she was funny, sexy, cool as hell, and actually had a pretty interesting lore surrounding her character.
Intrigued, I pressed on, seeking out Mercy’s hard-to-find original miniseries. Consuming that within a matter of hours, I entered a cold sweat and started twitching for more. Issue was… there was no more. Like, at all. At all at all.
Could that be it? Two crossover issues, four and a half actual issues, an open-ended climax leading to the promise of more? What in the world was I gonna do? I was already addicted to Mercy’s signature hard-drinking, chain-smoking, angel-killing, ass-kicking, bike-riding, punk rock lifestyle – where was I gonna get my fix?
I didn’t, not for a while, not until the “volume 2” ongoing started finally getting made. Even with crowd-funding, however, it was slow going – Mercy’s existed since 2008. In that time, including her crossover issues, about 14 issues have been released.
In case you are lazy or, like me, hate math, that’s two issues per year.
So, no wonder the series has had a hard time finding a widespread fanbase. Already a relatively minor Devil’s Due property, anyone who would dare try getting into the comic would find themselves twiddling their thumbs for months or years on end, waiting for another issue of a comic that’s just never gonna come out. This has been my dreadful existence since the first time I laid eyes on Mercy Sparx.
Now I want to share that dreadful existence with you! Excited?! Of course you are!!
I’m not going to go out of my way to compliment aspects of these comics that don’t deserve compliments. Few things, after all, are truly perfect. Josh Blaylock’s name prooooobably won’t be remembered in the annals of history as the greatest writer of all time – while the storylines are generally entertaining, they’re also simple. Neither expanding the horizons of the imagination nor commenting on the status of culture and humanity, story arcs are grounded but also fairly comprehensible – they can be quickly read, easily absorbed, and enjoyed repeatedly, not entirely unlike pixie stix (or, perhaps more in the mood of Mercy Sparx, shotgunning a beer).
Nope, the strength in the writing is the dialogue, pure and simple. Funny, smooth, and evocative, Blaylock finds the voices of his characters very quickly and very efficiently. Even characters that may seem simple at first, even unneeded (Hank, Mercy’s sidekick, comes across this way) quickly became beloved by me just in how unique, simple, and “human” they all were… even the ones who aren’t human, like Mr. Suit and Mercy herself, among others. On top of the aspect of characterization, the dialogue is also just… plain enjoyable. Grounded, yet flavorful, Mercy manages to make wise-cracking cool again by actually not sounding like a 12-year-old when she does it. The dialogue has a very adult tone, so even when a character says or does something immature, it always seems clear that it’s an immature character… not just an immature writer.
I should definitely take a moment to discuss the artwork on this, as well. As an action and low-calorie cheesecake comic, the art obviously has a heavy load to carry. It doesn’t disappoint. Smooth and dynamic, the artwork is high in quality but not excessively detailed. The pages feel very clean and easy to digest, the movements are streamlined and I, for one, have never had any issue following the action panels or left stumped as to “what exactly just happened, right there?”
It’s also obvious that, at some point, I’m gonna have to talk about the boobies. They’re there. They exist. And while I really don’t feel like it’s necessary for me to actually point them out, I certainly can’t pretend that you, dear reader, didn’t notice them for yourself. I mentioned only a single paragraph ago that this is a “low-calorie” cheesecake comic, something I may or may not have just made up. While Mercy Sparx isn’t as in-yo’-face as Bomb Queen, Aspen, Tarot, Witchblade, or even Hack/Slash, the cheesecake never interrupts the story, and it doesn’t contain (much) actual nudity, it is nonetheless a “sexy” comic (with a cute tattooed dude for the ladies, as well). I’m not here to talk about whether or not I approve of that – if you do, Mercy Sparx has one more thing to enjoy. If you don’t approve of that, it might not be the comic for you.
Also worth mentioning is how vivid-as-hell the expressions on these characters (Mercy in particular) can be. Hell, I’ve already started gathering them up to use as reaction images ’cause some of these panels are just so damn expressive. It’s a minor thing to make mention of, but it’s something that really stands out to me about why I love the comic so much.
Long story short, Mercy Sparx is pure fun. It’s not something that requires a lot of thought, and… y’know what, that’s fine. Not everything needs to be deep, thought-provoking, or even unique. Blaylock’s comic takes the concepts of Heaven and Hell, dashes in some minor elements of cosmic horror, a whole lot of comedy, and wraps it up in this punk-rock biker vibe with a sexy protagonist who kicks so much ass I’m surprised she still even has feet.
Funny, cute, sexy, dynamic, badass, and filled with new challenges and characters with each passing issue, Mercy Sparx isn’t a masterpiece – so few things are – but if it’s what you want it to be, it won’t ever disappoint you. A varied cast, straightforward storyline and nicely detailed slice of the Imageverse helps support a protagonist so flat-out fun she even knows Sin City by heart.