Propaganda tackles the divisive subject of redheads with Anna Mercury # 1
Anna Mercury # 1
written by Warren Ellis, art by Facundo Percio,
I’m getting fed up with writing the same old thing about Warren Ellis Avatar books. With the exception of Crecy, which at least tried to be a little different, it seems that I can sum most of them up with a generic review moaning about the waste of talent that Ellis exhibits committing some frankly throw-away characters to the page. After all; there are now six volumes of Strange Kiss / Strange Killings but we’re still waiting for the final issue of Planetary? What about some more Fell? And where’s Desolation Jones? How about more of those before another Wolfskin series?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ellis either just has too many ideas or no quality control. Or maybe both.
After the disappointment of Doktor Sleepless, I went into Anna Mercury with lower expectations than I usually do for a Warren Ellis comic and I have to say that it’s not bad at all. It’s got an interesting hook, a funky Lara Croft / Black Widow style character, a little mystery and just enough of Ellis’ standard future-techno-joy to be fun without being overbearing.
Anna Mercury, all red hair and tight leathers is swinging around this bizarre city of Ataraxia on a billy club that looks like a vibrator and fighting the authorities who are looking to destroy their rival city with magnetism bombs. Or something like that. It’s just one issue after all and Ellis sets up Anna, back in the city after a brief unacounted disappearance, meeting up with a resistance cell from Sheol City embedded in New Ataraxia. The New Ataraxians are going to be blasting Sheol City with a new wonder weapon based on a nearby moon.
According to the Avatar Anna Mercury website:
“She floats and leaps around the city like she’s Daredevil, Lara Croft and a character from CROUCHING TIGER all rolled into one,” Warren Ellis says, shedding (just a little) more light on his title character, “but no-one can get a good look at her. A lot of people don’t even think she’s real.”
“She’s real,” Ellis confirms. “It’s the city of New Ataraxia that might not be real. And yet there she is in this weird retropolis out of American 1950’s science fiction magazines, disrupting the activities of the War Department, Magnetic Science and the Metropolitan Police, apparently working for no-one but herself… because no-one living there would believe who she’s working for.”
And that’s what seems to make the difference here. Ellis has found a nice little hook in the possible fictional status of the world we’re looking at and what Anna Mercury is really doing there. It’s sufficiently interesting to make me want to read more.
There’s five variant covers out there, including the pick of the bunch shown above by Paul Duffield, currently illustarting Ellis’ Freakangels online comic. Interior art is by Facundo Percio and it ranges from really nice to an assault on the eyes, often on the same page:
(Anna Mercury page 1, issue 1. What is wrong with her chin in panel 2? A perfect example repeated through the book of a horrible panel skewing the enjoyment of otherwise nice artwork by Facundo Percio)
Whether it’s the hair throwing off his idea of proportion or something else, Percio’s got a habit of drawing Anna Mercury with one of the worst chins I’ve ever seen. It’s annoying, ugly and offputting amongst some nice artwork generally. Isn’t this what an editor is meant to do? But when he gets it right it’s very nice indeed, take this great action scene:
(Much better – not a dodgy chin in sight. From Anna Mercury # 1. Art by Facundo Percio)
Overall, I was expecting to not like Anna Mercury. But I was proved wrong. And I’m very glad to be. It’s got potential. And it’s Warren Ellis. So at least I know there’ll be something ridiculously over the top and funny coming soon.
Would I rather have new Desolation Jones, Planetary or Fell to this? Of course. But this will more than suffice as an interesting and imaginative stopgap.
Richard Bruton is a big fan of Warren Ellis. Despite what he’s written about some of his work in the past. No, really. Moore, Morrison, Ellis. Three of my favourite comic writers.