Toctolissica’s sacrifice and her gold headdress connect with the treasure Mercy guards. What will happen when the bandits discover it? Find out in St. Mercy #2 from Top Cow!
ST. MERCY #2 (OF 4)
Writer: John Zuur Platten
Artist: Atilio Rojo
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Elena Alcedo
Publisher: Top Cow
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 22, 2021
Previously in St. Mercy: Five hundred years ago in Peru, a young Incan girl, Toctolissica, is determined to be chosen as sacrifice to the god Supay and to be the mother of his children. Her heart burns with the fire of faith despite the fact that she is not fertile and hasn’t grown as plump as any of the other potential sacrifices. In 1871, Mercedes (Mercy) Oro lives with her father at a small church outside of town. One night, a bandit who was left for dead by his gang after an ambush, arrives at the church and begs for mercy. Mercy cleans his wounds and tells her father to go to the Sheriff. But it turns out they are also guarding a small trove of cursed Incan gold, including Toctolissica’s headdress. As Mercy puts on the headdress and says she will end the young man’s suffering, he comes up behind her and hits her with a shovel!
A CURSE THAT SPANS CENTURIES
St. Mercy #2 opens with the Bandit, Alex, riding out in the rain with the headdress. But the narration is Toctolissica, and she states that if he knew he was actually stealing from her, he would be more afraid. There is plainly some kind of connection between the young women.
The bandits who robbed the Army payroll wagon ride into town looking for a place to lay low. Or to spend some money on drink and women. They aren’t the only ones out and about. Neto, Mercy’s father, is on his way to town when he comes across the Sheriff and his men. Neto tells him about the young man who had been gut-shot. The Sheriff sends two men to go back with him as he heads into town.
In the saloon, the bandits give the barkeep a bunch of money and settle in to drinking. Alex shows up. The other bandits draw their guns, on guard against him attacking them for revenge. Instead, he shows them the gold headdress and tells them he knows where to find more. He just wants a doctor and to be allowed back into the gang.
Back at the barn, Mercy gathers up the gold, apologizes to her madre for having to move it, and takes it into the church. When her father returns, she tells him only that it is safe. She identifies the missing crown as Toctolissica’s; she has some significant ties to the Incan girl.
At the saloon, Alex is taken upstairs to a room. The gang leader (Frank) gets a doctor but asks Alex to tell them about the gold just in case things take a bad turn. He describes the church and the doctor identifies it. The doctor gives Alex some morphine. Then Frank shoots Alex and buys the doctor’s silence.
The Sheriff arrives as some men are bundling Alex’s body out of the saloon, although the gang leader and a couple of his men have left. He has a shootout through the saloon. When the rest of the gang has been dispatched, he talks with Constance, one of the women working at the saloon, who tells him about the gold crown, and that the men were headed to the Oros’ church.
THE DARKNESS OF THE SOUL
Essentially all of St. Mercy #2 takes place at night and in representing this, the art plays with shadowing and cool colors. We can see all the action perfectly clearly, but there’s a play of muted light that makes it feel like we are seeing things in lightning. And there can be much drama in that kind of light, such as when we see Mercy shortly after the open. We didn’t know if she was dead or alive, and in a flash of lightning, she opens her eyes. In the next panel, she is standing and resolute, and again we see in her something of what we saw last issue in Toctolissica.
The gunfight at the saloon is only a few pages long, but it is dynamic with a strong feeling of homage to Western movies. We even get a couple close ups of the eyes of the Sheriff and one of the bandits right before they face off. It starts out on the porch outside the doors where a couple bandits were stationed. Then it moves inside to the crowded bar area, and eventually to the deceptively quiet upstairs.
BOTTOM LINE: GRITTY AND CAPTIVATING
St. Mercy #2 is framed like a Western, but the deeper story connecting to the Incas and putting women into crucial roles gives it a decidedly new flavor. There is plenty of action and danger, and just enough touch of the supernatural that it feels like something I have not read before.
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St. Mercy #2
The curse of Totcolissica’s headdress is starting to come to life!