Title: Anna Mercury Volume 1: The Cutter
Author: Warren Ellis
Artists: Facundo Perico, Felipe Massafera
Publisher: Avatar Press
Release Date: March 11, 2009
This may not be the best way to test a comic, but I have what I call a flip test. I flip through the pages before even reading, not to spoil the fun but to get an idea for the style, theme, and feel of a new story before I dive in. After administering the flip test to the first trade paperback of the ongoing Anna Mercury story, I knew it was right up my alley. With bold colors, solid lines, and a prevailing darkness, I had a feel for the emotional texture of what this story had to offer. The retro-punk-scifi backgrounds jumped out at me too, and before I knew it, I wasn’t doing the flip test any more — I had settled down to reading.
The titular character (I had to go for the bad pun as I’m sure every other reviewer will as well) practically bursts through the first pages, and comes off larger than life in her red and black leather outfit and mass of curling red hair. What immediately hit me was that not only is she obviously sexy, she doesn’t have a super skinny “look at me I only have boobs” figure. There is definitely some muscle to back up her disarming appearance. I personally think we need more kick-ass and less fragile (at least fragile-seeming) ladies in comics.
The action starts at the very beginning; there is none of that cozy “getting to know you” business. Anna is in the middle of a mission, to save the island city of Sheol from its neighbor, the other island city of New Ataraxia. New Ataraxia has developed a weapon of mass destruction and even annexed Mandragon Moon, a neutral scientific zone, as a place to set it up to kill the people of Sheol for nothing less than religious reasons. Anna needs to get up to the moon, stop the WMD (also known as “The Cutter”) and do all of it in less than an hour. Why only an hour? Well, I’m not going to tell you — you really need to read it to find out.
The artwork is amazing. It’s not exactly my usual cup of tea, but it fits perfectly with the tenor of the story. It’s gritty, dirty, and gory, with bold lines and color, and is essentially no-nonsense. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the detail isn’t amazing. I’m going to have to spend some time just going through and looking at the artwork in more detail. This is truly a book that requires the reader to take their time and look at each page for clues to the story. The dialogue is sparse or non-existent in some places, so time really should be spent looking at the magnificent artwork.
If you like action from the first page, dangerously beautiful female secret agents, and stunning visuals, you need to pick this up. Even if you’re not sure if you like all of that, plus science fiction and a really neat plot twist after the first chapter, you should pick this up. It was a fun and exciting read, and I can’t wait to get my hands on future issues. I would rate this a solid 4 1/2 stars out of 5.