Dystopian future? Cyborgs? A mission that promises to pay off big? Sounds like Merc #1 to me.

mercCOVER.jpgMerc #1
Jerry Brown
(A) Daniel Schneider
David Michael Beck

In the future, the world has gone to hell, and while a virus ravages the world, promising to wipe out the entire population in a few years, others have decided to merge themselves with technology to become cyborg mercenaries willing to do any job for the right amount of money.  Then there is also the roaming band of body part gangs ready to kill to get  a clean specimen to sell to those in need for a handy profit.

Zenescope’s latest does sound really familiar to anyone who’s read the science fiction tales from the ‘80s and early ‘90s, but instead of letting the pictures play out in your head, Zenescope gives you the images of scarred gang members, prostitutes with clean bodies, and Daniel Schneider’s vision of the half-man half-machine merc.  The Monolith Virus gimmick set up in the first page by writer Jerry Brown does allows Schneider to create a world that is nearly empty, and is a good explanation why he doesn’t draw large crowd scenes.  Schneider’s art works for this series, but potential readers should note that there is a lot of blood and violence as the central character, Sonny Grissom, is more than willing to wipe out anyone standing in his way.

The story is solid enough – Sonny is hired to capture a courier who may be holding something important stolen from the CDC.  Considering there’s a major virus killing the population, there a good chance the top secret package is more than likely the cure.  Leading up to the job offer, we discover the disadvantages of becoming a cyborg, learn that there are still a large number of scumbag agents in the world, and that hot women will get it on with anyone providing they have enough money.

There are some disturbing moments in the issue, like the broken-English parts dealer, and the gangs willing to kill for a spleen, but it is no worse than what can be found in Blade Runner, Neuromancer, or Snow Crash.  Merc #1 is a complete set up issue; there’s no doubt in the reader’s mind by issue’s end that there’s going to be a lot more action in the coming issues.

Pacing and plot sit fine with me, as I do enjoy this type of story that is essentially a pop-corn flick in comic book form.  Jerry Brown doesn’t appear to be trying to convince the reader about a political point of view, or lecturing on the pleasures of excess.  Instead, he’s telling a story that screams for a movie adaptation if this were 1982 – and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  I often wish the ultra-violent action flicks would return, but alas the MPAA Ratings Board has put a damper on that kind of fun.

There’s nothing groundbreaking in the story or art, but the story and the art still hold for this issue. I like it.  I think others will like it too, especially if they are a fan of the dystopian future action story.

I am on board for the remainder of the story, and think Merc #1 is deserving of 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Disclaimer:  This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher.


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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