Most helpful positive review
111 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2009
Every time I turn around, another fantasy series is being adapted into graphic novel form. Some good, some bad, and some that just aren't ugly enough.
The newest addition to this genre: "Mercy Thompson: Homecoming," a prequel that explores what happened upon Mercy's arrival in the Tri-Cities area. It's a tightly-written, fast-moving little graphic novel with solid character introductions and some intriguing twists and turns, although the ever-shifting art is a bit offputting.
As the story opens, Mercy is going out for a run, when she is attacked by a pack of werewolves. Just in the nick of time, ANOTHER pack comes to save her, but her car is wrecked in the fight. After a disastrous job interview ("It's more important that a history teacher can coach track than explain the Bill of Rights!"), Mercy heads to the local garage to get her car fixed -- and it turns out the person running the place is is a nine-year-old boy with a fae daddy -- and he quickly runs afoul of a vampire's human "sheep."
Mercy intervenes and offers to help fix it, since she knows how to replace a clutch. The kid even offers her a job, which Mercy finds herself seriously considering. But in the meantime, the savage rogue werewolves are still hunting Mercy, intending to force her to help them. While a friendly local vampire named Stefan helps her a few times, it's only a matter of time before she becomes entangled in a bloody pack war.
Patricia Briggs is something of a rarity in urban fantasy, since her Mercy Thompson series focuses on a small rural town full of "ordinary" (read: nonglamorous) vampires, fae and werecreatures, and its heroine is a shapeshifting mechanic.
So "Mercy Thompson: Homecoming" is not written to be glamorous or sexy, which is part of its rough-hewn appeal -- especially since Briggs dodges many of the cliches. She and David Lawrence spin up a solid little story explaining how the scrappy "walker" came to the town, how she met the vampire Stefan (who looks an awful lot like Vincent Valentine), her boss Zee, and how she got her job.
After the confusing introduction, the taut, quiet plot smooths out into a stream of snappy dialogue ("Adel... bert... smiter? So you smite Adelberts?"), blood-spraying action, and I-need-a-job stress (Mercy's brief stint in a fast food restaurant). In fact, it adds to the supernatural goings-on that Mercy's personal woes are so down-to-earth, though black-and-white flashbacks show her experiences as the Marrok's ward.
And Mercy is a likable heroine -- she's strong enough to stand up for herself, while still being vulnerable enough to stumble. And despite being quickly established as a coyote walker, she seems very much like an "ordinary" woman -- she needs a job, needs an apartment, hopes to be a teacher, and can rearrange the internal parts of a car with no stress.
Francis Tsai's artwork is quite good, albeit kind of uneven -- a shadowy, murky experience filled with grimy walls, blue Washington nights, glitzy fae bars, big hairy werewolves and pallid befanged vampires. Mercy is rather harshly and exaggeratedly drawn initially, but Tsai's lines become more delicate and less cartoony by the midpoint. And with the arrival of the good-guy weres, the color palette shifts from the rainy night colors to burnt lighter ones.
"Mercy Thompson: Homecoming" sets up this prequel nicely, and will leave readers wanting to see more of Mercy's move into this small town.