I’m always up for a bargain. Lately, I’ve been spoilt. Devil’s Due Publishing is one of the latest indie companies (after Radical Publishing) to offer 99 cent first issues of new series. Both Rest and Mercy Sparx got my attention pretty much for this reason. Also, because I haven’t given DDP much of a chance, so here goes.
Rest is produced by Heroes and Rocky Balboa star Milo Ventimiglia. What the term, “produced” actually means in a comic book context is anybody’s guess. Well, mine would be that he’s just a name with a vague idea that came to a comic publisher, allowing both to take advantage of each other’s fans. Nicolas Cage, Hugh Jackman and director Richard Donner have all got in on this act, so Milo’s not necessarily paving the way for actor/comic inspiration projects.
Rest is the most interesting concept, compared to Mercy Sparx. Written by Mark Powers, with art by Shawn McManus and Lizzy John, Rest centres on John Barret, just an ordinary guy like the rest of us. It’s his mediocrity, and his settle-for-second-best attitude that has piqued his college mate Teddy’s interest. Teddy sees potential in John for his new wonder drug, and in this ish attempts to convince his superiors that John is the right man for this wonderful opportunity – to partake of a drug that makes sleep redundant. John is unaware of this focus on his mundane existence throughout most of the tale until Teddy shows up in the final pages, hoping to save his friend with the pharmaceutical, as he has been.
Mercy Sparx is a far less subtle tale. Heaven and hell, angels and demons have been fodder for comics for as long as they’ve existed. AS writer (and DDP President) Josh Blaylock explains in his afterword, he’s attempting to forego what’s been done before, while honestly admitting, that in regards to pop culture spirituality, it’s pretty much all been done before. Matt Merhoff draws this intro tale with an almost cartoon vibe and fills Sheol (a hell in City) with horned red devils (the titular character), bug-eyed creeps, and dingy bars. The art is simple, but it gets the story across. Scantily clad women, swearing and God bashing seem to be the quickest way to make something appear “bad” and unfortunately Blaylock doesn’t avoid the cliche here. It does have potential however, especially in the last few pages, where Mercy is transformed into a far more friendly looking human. Blaylock’s one page background of this title, some funky sketchbook pages and a preview of the upcoming issue #1 fill up the ish, as there are far fewer story pages here then in Rest.
Both titles have their own mini-series coming in October by the same creative teams that produced these introductory books. For only $2 for both, these titles are worth picking up, especially for newbies to sequential art. For penny pinchers, choose Rest as it is the more novel concept, and you can read a preview here.