Writer: Alex De Campi
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Teenagers can do some terrible things sometimes. Oftentimes these young people will make highly questionable decisions during the worst possible moment, making teenagers the perfect characters to put in thrilling scenarios.
Alex De Campi’s No Mercy #1 does well at capturing the teenage spirit. The kids say dumb things and don’t understand the world around them. The writer completely understands the weaknesses of her characters and throws them into a terrible situation in an unfamiliar setting. The final result is an series full of potential with a few shortcomings.
No Mercy #1 focuses on a group of teenagers who have recently graduated from high school and are moving on to college soon. They are visiting Central America on a humanitarian trip. Before too long their trip goes terribly wrong, and their bus gets into an accident leaving them stranded in the wilderness with no way to contact the outside world. What we get is an issue that effectively captures the harrowing possibility of being trapped while surrounded by hopelessness. These characters are so used to lives full of social media and privilege that they seem to have no chance of getting out of this situation alive.
The concept is interesting and it holds up well throughout the first issue. De Campi has expressed interest in doing a story without too many fantasy elements in play. She states at the end of the issue that she loves how shoujo manga can manage to make a moment in the hallway the most dramatic moment on ever. She also loves stories about survival where everything goes wrong. No Mercy is clearly influenced by all of this and definitely works.
No Mercy #1’s biggest weakness right now is its characters. No one stands out and some characters are just annoying. Those who hate how teenagers speak will find themselves quickly turned off here. The lettering is full of emojis and hashtags that can sometimes take away from the immersion, despite the humor they bring to the story.
On art, Carla Speed McNeil arranges the panels in a way that helps the story to flow nicely. It’s mostly a conventional layout, but it sometimes gets shook up during times of crisis. It helps the story to move in a brisk manner and is mostly easy to read. The characters themselves look great, with expressive faces and realistic bodies. The art seems a bit too bright for the tone of the series, but other than that it is mostly effective. The use of emojis sometimes seems out of place sometimes as well, but this is more of lettering issue, and a minor one at that.