Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Anna Mercury

Anna Mercury is a sci-fi/spy thriller/action graphic novel from comic writer extraordinaire, Warren Ellis. A great way to describe this is to think of James Bond in space/alternate worlds (quickly erase any Moonraker imagery), yet as a feisty red-head babe with huge boobs and a black leather outfit. OK, got it? Good. Moving on.

Anna Mercury plunks the reader directly into the action and the first few pages feature Anna jumping around, soaring through the air, and whopping ass on some sorry baddies. As you wade through the eye candy, you start to get a sense of when, where, and whys of the story. Anna is in the city of New Ataraxia and is working with cells of spies from the neighboring city of Sheol. The two cities are at odds with one another, and New Ataraxia has recently test-fired their new super weapon on one of Sheol's major bridges. The destructive power of this weapon is massive and the next shot will be aimed at the city of Sheol, destroying it, and killing the inhabitants...But not if Anna Mercury can help it!

With her "fly by the seat of her leather pants" Modus Operandi and her can-do attitude, she quickly hatches a plan to stop the weapon, which is stationed on a moon-base. As Anna stows away aboard a rocket bound for the moon-base, we discover that she is part of the "Constellation Project" a top-secret organization that deals with half-formed planets, all which have humans on them, that are somehow tethered to, and in invisible orbit around our own. With super-advanced British technology, they've figured out how to send people to these planets for short periods of time. Anna Mercury is in New Ataraxia to try and right an old wrong, where and accidental transportation of an American Warship completely deformed Ataraxian society, causing a once peaceful and scientific people to turn warlike.

One of the hitches to traveling to places like New Ataraxia is that the agents cant stay for long. Sixteen hours is the record. Each agent is equipped with an anchor field. A device that not only allows the wearer to return back to Earth, but to also generate useful physical affects, like jumping over tall buildings and whooping ass...this drains the device's energy faster and if the anchor field runs out of juice, the agent is screwed, and will simply explode, so careful monitoring is required.

Anna Mercury likes to push the abilities of her anchor field to the limits, causing a bit of drama with her handlers, and making the reader slightly worried that maybe she wont make it back home. That's about it for tension in this book though, as it focuses more on action and explosions.

Reading Anna Mercury is much like watching a summer blockbuster. It is sort of entertaining, and some cool stuff happens and it looks really cool, but at the end it leaves you feeling empty, wondering if it was worth spending your money on. Anna Mercury has some cool ideas, I liked the anchor field, and the science fiction behind the tethered planets, they were cool, but I would have liked to see more of that. I don't care about all the T&A, though some might love it, and the massive explosions lost impact as they happened all too often to be that interesting. The artwork by Fecundo Percio was pretty nice to look at, but it didn't stand out as amazing. I know Anna Mercury was supposed to be a total fox, but there were times Percio's art made her look mannish, giving her a jaw and chin that were Buzz Lightyear-esque.

As far as Warren Ellis' work goes, this was pretty pedestrian. I've certainly read far better by him. Tried and true fans of Ellis will likely count this as yet another gem, but for me it was simply a somewhat generic action story.

Grade: C-

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