BOOK REVIEW: St. Mercy by John Zuur Platten

St. MercySt. Mercy by John Zuur Platten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon.in Page

Out: March 1, 2022

This graphic novel combines a Cowboy Western with backstory featuring Incan mythology from pre-Colonial Peru, the latter adding a supernatural element to make a kind of “Unforgiven” meets “Dawn of the Dead” mashup.

It thought the Western narrative was quite well done. The villains were villainous. It’s nothing particularly novel, but the story and characters are skillfully crafted. The Incan story portion forms the origin story for the main character and offers a supernatural element thrown into the gritty realism of the Western. This part of the story is intriguing as well, but there are a couple things I should point out. First of all, I know nothing about Incan gods and monsters lore. Therefore, I can’t say whether the author and artist did their homework, or whether they just made up a generic demon and zombified beings out of nowhere. Secondly, I don’t think the link up of the two storylines was as seamless as it could have been. I found myself unsure of who was whom among carry over characters, and didn’t feel its relevance was sufficient to go back in the middle of what was otherwise an intense story in order to figure it out.

I think the story suffers from two common problems among comic books. First, the mindset of “you can smash any two good things together and make a great thing.” People love Westerns. People love zombies and monster. How could thrusting them together miss? Well, it misses because the visceral emotional quality of the gritty Western tanks in the face of magic and monsters. It misses because the smartly developed Sheriff character is squandered to get him out of the way. Second, this comic suffered from the “cool idea” problem. That’s when someone says “wouldn’t it be cool if…” And then there’s this idea that’s floating out there that you can either do a lot of work to fit into the story so that it makes sense organically, or you can cram it in there willy-nilly and hope the reader says, “cool,” instead of being befuddled by needless complication. I found myself more with the latter.

With a little thought and focus I believe this could have been an excellent story, but – as it is – it’s a bit muddled because it tries to mash together disparate story elements and genres in a way that robs its own thunder.


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DAILY PHOTO: Walls at Sacsayhuaman

Taken in the Summer of 2010 at Sacsayhuaman, near Cusco

Sacsayhuaman offers some phenomenal examples of Incan masonry, which used no mortar and involved perfect joints that weren’t perfectly on the horizontal or vertical (i.e. the joints had to be matched up on planes of various angles.)

DAILY PHOTO: Over the Llama’s Shoulder

Taken in July of 2011 at Machu Picchu

Taken in July of 2011 at Machu Picchu

This is Machu Picchu at a Llama’s eye view.

DAILY PHOTO: Terraces at Pisaq

Taken in July of 2010 at Pisaq, Peru

Taken in July of 2010 at Pisaq, Peru

Pisaq (also spelled “Pisac”) is a site of Incan ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is the river valley of the Urubamba River, which is also called the Willkanuta. This type of terracing is common around Incan sites.