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: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Yanque

Taken in 2010-ish in Yanque, Peru [Near Colca Canyon]

Nowhere Station [Haibun]

The tawny landscape was tinged with the green that landlubbers take on in rolling seas or flatlanders show on a high mountain pass. The world looked like it was being viewed through shooter's glasses -- except for the azure infinity overhead that was unafflicted by sickly hues. Railroad tracks arced the length of the valley and it was a long valley - so long the tracks almost looked line like. The lack of other signs of humanity might have led one to believe it was the train to nowhere, but there was a solitary station in the middle of the valley and there can't be a station in the middle of nowhere on the way to nowhere. Or, can there be? Maybe, nowhere is like infinity, existing in larger and smaller degrees.


a single building
and a long covered platform,
but just i, waiting

DAILY PHOTO: Cylindrical Houses in Peru

Taken about a decade ago in the Peruvian Andes

These are restorations of the stone portions of a cylindrical houses. These would have been topped with a conical thatched roof, though less is known about the details (e.g. pitch) of such roofs because the thatching (obviously) didn’t survive as well as the stone bases. These were located at an archeological site on the road between Cuzco and Puno.