Unspeakable creatures that can take over human bodies are on the loose – but why do they all find their way to Woodsborough? Find out in Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 from Image Comics!
MIRKA ANDOLFO’S MERCY #3
Writer: Mirka Andolfo
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Letterer: Fabio Amelia
Editor: Diego Malara
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 24, 2020
Previously in Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy: The Devil of Woodsborough is on the prowl again, a plant like creature that consumes humans, sometimes taking over their bodies. Nollwenn Hellaine has come to town, appearing to be a beautiful rich woman with plans. In reality, she is one of the creatures in a human body. Her rival in town is Lady Swanson, one of the survivors of the monster’s previous ventures in town. The two come face to face when Lady Hellaine throws a fancy party. A twist of events brings the little orphan girl, Rory, to the party. When she leaves, Hellaine follows her out to feed on her, but Rory calls her “Mom,” which triggers an odd response in Nollwenn, and the monster in her recedes, at least for the moment.
MORE THAN ONE HIDDEN MONSTER
Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 opens outside of town at the site of the coach accident from the first issue. The boy guide is there, and he is inhabited by one of the creatures. He pleads for people to go away, but the people who have come upon him are the hunters who kill him and wonder why the creatures always come back here.
In town, Lady Hellaine and Mr. Goodwill have taken Rory in. They have an interesting conversation where the older man lectures Hellaine on her need to be perfect, and Rory insists that she already is. Some of this is her innocence as a child; some of it has been filtered through her deeply held religious beliefs. It’s a striking moment. People can hold beliefs so firmly that they reinterpret facts and their own observations through this filter and convince themselves that they fit the belief. (Remember that Rory has seen Hellaine as a full-blown monster.) This is depicted chillingly well.
Finally, we see who hired the hunters – none other than Lady Swanson. They arrive at her house with news about the creature pods, and how each of them is unique. And even though they followed one to Seattle, the trail of others has led back to Woodsborough, where they found the boy outside of town inhabited by fresh pods. Interestingly, these hunters left town before the big mine disaster. Lady Swanson hints that she is investigating on her own and may have another person for them. There is still some conflict, as Lady Swanson seems more loathe to simply kill potential creatures than her predecessor.
At church that week Rory attends with her new benefactors, and Jonathan catches up with her to see how she is doing. Rory introduces them, and as their hands touch, there is a connection between them that we saw a hint of last issue. Later, there is a chance meeting with the Swansons, and Gregor invites them to dinner.
This seems like no big deal, but it is for Nollwenn Hellaine. We’ve already seen that she has no liking for human food. She has to practice. This makes no sense to Rory, but the man explains that Hellaine prefers brains. Again, Rory twists this in a way that makes sense to her story that her mother is now an angel on Earth, which is both innocent and horrible. Hellaine is able to keep a bite of food down for fifteen minutes. A dinner will be challenging.
Goodwill does not go to dinner; he goes to the bar, hoping to pull Jonathan away privately to dispatch him. He also talks down to him, insinuating that a Black man is not appropriate company for Lady Hellaine. Jonathan walks out, and Goodwill makes do, stealing away with a male companion and feasting on him. Hellaine bluffs through dinner, eating as little as she can get away with, but the watchful Rory sees the first traces of her losing it. She causes a disruption that gets them outside. But this was not a reaction to their dinner; she has a connection with Goodwill, and she can sense that something has happened to him.
THE BRITTLE FAÇADE CRACKS
Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 continues to have art that swings effortlessly from the ethereally beautiful to the utterly horrifying. Some of the monsters in this story retain a shred of their humanity, like the boy from the coach. As awful as his possession is, he struggles to keep the hunters away from him for their own safety. They, on the other hand, are ruthless, and we quickly understand that they know much more about the creatures than we do.
Nollwell Hellaine is drawn almost like a living porcelain doll. She’s blonde, pale, slender and basically perfect, at least to a casual glance or to Rory’s adoring eyes. Beneath this façade there are growing indications of her alienness and also her questioning. Why does she react to Rory and to Jonathan? Whatever plot she had Goodwill have, she urgently wants to move it along, even at risk to herself. She tries so hard to hold herself together, but the effort of something as simple as eating food puts a visible strain on her.
BOTTOM LINE: A FASCINATING KIND OF TERROR
Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #3 has a consistently great done. We see the monsters only for short moments. They’re an almost cosmic horror, but as the story progresses, it seems more like there are multiples – these aren’t all just parts of a single being. And we still don’t really know what it/they are after.