Two young girls bound by destiny, a vengeful god, lots of blood and gore, wild west thieves, and an ancient Incan curse.
St. Mercy #1
John Zuur Platten (writer), Atilio Rojo (artist)
EP1T0ME/Top Cow Productions
August 25, 2021
Atilio Rojo does a beautiful job of shaping the two worlds in which St. Mercy lives. In ancient Incan times, he gives us an image of a beatific young woman resigned to her fate because she understands its importance to her people. Capacocha, or the sacrifice of children to the gods, is an honoured affair, and Toctollissica bears that honour with pride and devotion to the god whom she will serve in the afterlife, Supay, the God of Death. One of the many impressive panels shows a close up of her eyes gazing into the distance, swirling with colour and knowledge and an age beyond her young years.
Another series of panels reveals the bloody, vicious fate that awaits her and the other children at the hands of the priest who will lay the children out on a stone altar and leave nothing but their body parts and entrails behind.
And so it is that St. Mercy #1 perpetuates the untruths that too often plague history. Somehow, despite all of the revelations and the actual, physical evidence about capacocha that have come about, Zuur Platten’s story is only interested in the inaccurate depictions of blood, gore, and violence. Zuur Platten also reduces the Incan gods to simplistic, misleading elements as he shapes the rituals around this story. Toctollissica speaks of how the children are well-fed and fattened up, per Viracocha, the “God of Fat.” Imagine being the supreme Incan god of creation and of the sun and storms, whose name is so sacred that it is rarely spoken aloud, but having some dude in this century write about you as the “God of Fat.”
In the present time — aka 1874 Arizona — we meet Mercy, a descendent of Peruvian ancestors, faithful child of the Christian god. She has love, mercy, and forgiveness for everyone, even the dying thief who managed to survive another bloody mess that is expertly depicted in jagged shadows and bright red splotches and spatters of blood. Here is where we discover the connections between the two girls, and, presumably, the curse that will lead us through the next three issues of the miniseries.
Mercy is an interesting character. Like Toctollissica, she has an air of being much older and wiser than her years, and, other than a racist or two in town, many people respect her and will trust her judgement, even deferring to her in urgent situations. Though separated by centuries, I expect to see their lives intermingle as the story continues. However, I am strongly side-eyeing the nature of their relationship and everything else to come as St. Mercy delves deeper into creatively inappropriate depictions of Incan mythology…