Mercy (1993) is a graphic novel written by J. M. DeMatteis, and illustrated by Paul Johnson. It is a tale about Joshua Rose, a bitter cynical man who, while in a coma, finds himself drifting through states of Limbo. There he witnesses the personification of Mercy battling many of the personal demons and anguishes which afflict humankind, and in the end, those which afflict him.
- They scurry like brainless little ants, intent of their task. … Intent on keeping me alive. … Why? Because they care? Doubtful. … They don't know me. All they know is that Louisa — the pathetic idiot — is paying thousands of dollars a day to maintain the illusion of life.
- It's not extinction exactly. More of a Limbo — on the road to extinction, A Place Between. Around me I hear the whisper of souls like myself — drifting, Waiting. … For sweet oblivion.
- We wander across the years, stumble through frequent failures, rare successes; consume, copulate, manipulate, acquire, rage, weep, hate, love — and it means nothing. Because for all our grasping and desiring, all our craving and prayers — nothing fills the emptiness.
- Look at her: so radiant! Her entire being suffused with something so great, so deep, that I wouldn't dare try to name it; to soil it with words. … But I have named it — named her — haven't I? A name of my own creation, my own compulsion. But the right name I think (though I can't say why). The proper name: Mercy.
- She's a mystery, Mercy is — and a quick one at that: One minute India, the next New York: homeless and lice-ridden, sleeping in the cold. … The face and form are different — but somehow the same. I can always recognize her. That infuriating smile gives her away… as if she knows something no one else does; as if she holds the key that unlocks a question no one even thought to ask.
- Old defeated, every bone aching — yet she labors on. … Why does she do it. Slip unnoticed, through old and young, strong and dying, male and female, black and white — feeling every stretch of muscle, drinking in every gulp of air — vibrating through every blood drop shed, every tear fallen? … Why move, a soul-wind through those millions of meaningless lives? … Why be trapped by the limitations of human flesh — defiled by the stink and rot of human kind — when she's so much more?
- I move closer to her — and sense a completeness, and at-peaceness that angers me — and breaks what little heart I have left. … She is magnificence beyond words. She is all that we are not. … Yet she's chosen to forsake all that; destroy peace, shatter completeness — and descend into the very world I've turned my back on.
- Mercy moves: slow, delicate. Raising a single finger. One single gesture that speaks more clearly than words: I'm watching. I'll be back. A warning? A promise? Both.
- No pattern to it, no plan! Yet, somehow all pattern, all plan! It defies logic!
- How overwhelmed am I with hate: for her serenity, her beauty, her calm Knowing! I want that thing to rip away Mercy's mask … reveal the sores and disease in Mercy's soul!
- I understand: Their chief has died, and his only son has not yet reached the age of manhood. … So they offer him up to the heat and light, believing that, if he is worthy to succeed his father, he will not die on the pyre.
- The ghosts and devils keep their distance, but they make their presence known: "Out, bitch," they howl, from their hidden perches; "Get out! Leave us alone! She's our's bitch — not yours!
If the two women hear, the give no indication; just go on with their gentle talk, like old and dear friends.
- They whirl like dervishes before my mind's eye: Taunting me. Seducing me. Touching something deep within me: unnamed. Long forgotten. Always remembered. … And above them all, stands Mercy, the savior. Mercy, the devil. Mercy, the fool? … Which is she? And why do I care? … But I do care. I do! And that…more than any of this — terrifies me beyond words.
- I watch — seeking meaning in her every movement, seeking pattern in every breath — as Mercy grapples with the hideous thing: I watch as it tears at her; claws; bites, batters, roars. … To no effect. … I feel the fear in the thing growing, as it realizes how badly it's underestimated her.
- All that ugliness and agony, all that sin and disease — is flooding over her; into her! And it's not the creature's doing — it's Mercy's! … She wants the awful pain, she's claiming it as her own! Claiming skin/crust/darkness/filth/madness! And revealing, beneath it, not a nameless entity — but a lost soul. … I read the thing…the soul…and see an existence of despair, ended in suicide: Freedom — in a bullet to the brain. … But there was no freedom, not even in death; just Limbo. Trapped between two worlds — unable to move on. Unable to do anything — but feed on its own despair. And ultimately become it. … And now? … Has Mercy, through her suffering, lifted the soul's burden? Purified it? Set it free? … So it seems.
- This suffering … you must endure. It's your destiny. Your freedom. I can't take it from you. … But I can share it.
- No sense. To any of it. She rises up from Infinity, takes form, descends to a planet in chaos — and wastes her time with these inconsequential people? With insignificant lives that make no difference…serve no purpose? … If she's some kind of savior, why save them? Why not redeem the world? And if she's some kind of devil … then why not consume it once and for all? … Maybe she's neither; maybe its all a joke to her. Hell …maybe I'm the joke.
- I'm coming for you, Mercy. And I swear to do what all the entities and ghosts and fires of hell couldn't. … I'll destroy you.
- A thousand — ten thousand — questions geyser up, out of me. … One finger silences them all. One finger — opens … my … heart. … My consciousness widens: I no longer see; I no longer feel — I am! … Oh, Mercy — now I understand: The secret behind your actions, the thread that binds all these seemingly random events. … There's no great or small! No question of size or importance! Each act of compassion — however minor it may appear to our blind eyes — affects all Creation; shakes it to its roots!
- Human suffering calls you down into our world, to ease it, transform it! … Through my whirling ecstasy … my spinning exaltation … a pattern takes shape: a Wheel — huge as Heaven, tinier than a stray thought — spinning through the universes! … And there, at the wheel's hub: the Force behind it all … within us all! … Unnameable, alive, It spins the Wheel, shaking each soul in it's turn, and through us — shaking the world.
- It was her intention. from the start, to transform me as surely as she transformed the others. … So, transformed, I dissolve, dissipate, descend — back into my body. … Into a world that seems suddenly charged with Divinity; with Secrets and with Truths of greatest profundity— and greatest simplicity.
- I understand the most profound and simplest Truth of all: Any time any of us reaches out, any time we pour even a drop of love, compassion, simple human decency (no matter how small; how seemingly insignificant) into the sea of earthly existence — we are, each and every one of us — the being called Mercy.