The hunters have captured Goodwill as bait to lure Hellaine to them. Can they catch and hold her too? Find out in Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #4 from Image Comics!

MIRKA ANDOLFO’S MERCY #4

Writer: Mirka Andolfo
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Letterer: Fabio Amelia
Editor: Diego Malara
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 29, 2020

Previously in Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy: It has finally become apparent that there are multiple monsters in play. These plant-like, blood-hungry alien creatures can take over a human body or form but cannot tolerate human food. A small band of dedicated hunters, hired by Lady Swanson, is on their trail, and it leads them right back to Woodsborough. One of the creatures, Lady Hellaine, has met the little girl Rory who thinks she’s her mother, and her unquestioning love and devotion has started to affect the alien. As Hellaine braves a dinner party with the Swansons, Goodwill heads out to feed and is captured by the hunters instead.

HUNGER, CONFUSION, AND LOVE

Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #4 may be a little confusing at times but considering that it is a horror book where we gradually learn what’s happening, this is not a major detriment. The tone of the story has been firmly established and part of why it is so fabulous is because almost every character we meet is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Bad things have happened to them already. Then throw in flesh-eating monsters with an agenda of their own, and everyone’s decisions become really complicated.

After three issues of seeing how powerful and deadly the creatures are, we now see that the monster hunters have learned a thing or two. Goodwill is tied up, overpowered and appalled that these humans can – and do – eat the alien’s sprouts. It makes them stronger and gives them a coating for their bullets so they can injure the creatures as well. The hunters also know there are multiple creatures, and Goodwill is bait for the trap they hope will lure Hellaine.

In town, Hellaine can sense that Goodwill needs her help. She also needs to feed, and explains to Rory that in her natural state, she is eternal and don’t need to feed at all. They only must here so they can sustain the host body. Rory, who still firmly believes that Hellaine is her long-lost mother, asks why God would make this so. As the desperate Hellaine bends to feed on the trusting little girl, she hears another voice and senses another female creature. This one knows Hellaine; she has broken free of the connection to the group; she has found an attraction to the emotional world of humans and doesn’t want to leave. She challenges Hellaine to give in to her memories, and now even the alien creature has some difficult decisions to make.

Reference is also made to her unborn seeds, and the scene shifts back to the woods where the hunters are eating Goodwill’s seeds. Hellaine arrives, a larger, more terrible Hellaine who manages to fight them off and free Goodwill, who encourages her to feed from Rory. She hears the voice in her head and does not, instead riding back to town where she collapses and is brought inside by Jonathan. He feels a connection with her – he thinks that somehow she is his lost love who has come back, except that maybe she is not the one.

HAUNTING AND HORRIBLE

The art of Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #4 flows effortlessly between beauty and terror, between yearning and death. From a poignant moment between Jonathan and his sister, as he wonders about the death of the woman he loved, the scene cuts to Goodwill tied up and still conscious despite having his sprouts removed by the hunters. The alien body parts look unearthly and disgusting. Part of their theme is a purple coloring, and that holds true throughout. Preparing the sprouts for cooking causes alien sounds effects as well which are lettered with great aplomb.

Hellaine is at her breaking point and keeps shifting between the perfectly human host body and her toothy alien form. Her encounter with the other female creature, the one who was left behind alone, is even more haunting. Her form is more human, as though she’s internalized more memories, or is that only in Hellaine’s mind? When Hellaine rescues Goodwill, she is terrifying and clever. When she stands up to Goodwill, we see her becoming herself for the first time, only to see a few pages later that her hunger can still override her newfound independence.

BOTTOM LINE: CAUGHT BY MEMORIES

Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy #4 is a richly layered story that is good, if somewhat confusing, on a first read. Lingering over a second read brings out the subtle nuances and deep emotions that run through the issue.


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Mercy #4

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Rickly Layered Story

Have we finally come face to face with the Devil of Woodsborough?

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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