I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first adventure which Avatar brought us for their dimension-hopping secret agent, but it seemed only fair to give a second crack of the whip to Mercury, given the determination of her creators to firmly establish the character. Sadly, there isn’t a great improvement here. While the book certainly doesn’t lack charm, there isn’t enough weight to engage the reader, and the workmanlike art fails to compensate.
Despite the speed at which her assignment went west, Warren Ellis’s heroine isn’t out of action for long, quickly breaking free of the enemy’s restraints. Her search for the ruling power of her target Earth also proves surprisingly successful, but the arrival of the titular ‘Ultraspacial Dreadnought Vanaheim’ makes clear that Mercury’s assignment will proven more demanding than it initially appears.
As with the first series of Mercury, the core problem here appears to be a lack of detail. Ellis’s stated goal for the series was to create a sense of expansiveness in the action to give scope beyond that of the remainder of the writer’s work. In this sense, he has succeeded, with Mercury clearly moving amongst the movers and shakers of the parallel world she has entered. The difficultly is that there’s too little space in the story to flesh out the location, making it (and hence Mercury’s actions) feel disposable. Despite the gratuitous nature of some of the series’ covers, she’s a likeable enough lead, but not enough to carry the series single-handedly.
One interpretation of the book is that it’s a primarily art-driven showcase for the talents of co-creator Facundo Percio. If this is the case, then Percio is either rill-served by Avatar’s standard colouring approach or simply isn’t suited to the venture. His work is certainly appealing, at times being reminiscent of Brett Booth’s, but his minimal backgrounds don’t cut the mustard as our only gateway to the world Mercury explores. It’s a point brought home by the book’s climax, which features two double splash pages of the much-trailed arrival of the interstellar Viking dreadnought. Percio is a more than competent artist, but he isn’t Bryan Hitch, and the sequence lacks the power and detail which the writing appears to require of it. There are far worse titles on the market, but it’s hard to recommend as a purchase.