Jeremiah: Mercenaries

Writer / Artist
Jeremiah: Mercenaries
Jeremiah Mercenaries review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: SAF Comics - 1-59396-001-8
  • Volume No.: 20
  • Release date: 1997
  • English language release date: 2003
  • UPC: 9781593960018
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

In terms of production, almost ten years and seven albums separate The Mercenaries from the last Jeremiah album translated into English. Strike was a slim paperback, but this is a hardcover album, presenting Jeremiah the way the books are published in Europe. If you can get hold of it, that is, as the partnership between Strip Art Features and Dark Horse was brief, resulting in this and Gun in the Water, that published under the Venture imprint, both hard to come by at anything like a reasonable price.

An immediate difference between this and Strike is that Hermann has moved from pen and ink illustration to watercolour painting, which leads to some fantastic images of a sandstorm over the opening pages. There are times when it seems Hermann gives some thought to what he’d like to draw in Jeremiah, then finds a way to work that into a plot. Here it’s elephants, memorably introduced during the sandstorm. Much of Hermann’s artistic skill flies under the radar, as his plot requires a lot of talking, and the art serves that, but it makes pages such as the sample art of a mine working all the more special. It’s presumably photo-referenced, but not many artists would make that effort.

During the sandstorm Jeremiah and Kurdy end up in the dust of a mining town suffering frequent fatal accidents, about which the mining company cares not at all. There’s a reason, revealed in a clever piece of plotting referring pre-apocalyptic times by someone European readers have met before, known to Jeremiah and Kurdy. Something that consistently impresses about Jeremiah is the way Hermann has either Jeremiah or Kurdy stumble on something while located somewhere they shouldn’t be, which is more likely to be Kurdy’s territory. Although outsiders, what they learn is either immediately valuable, or something that later falls into place. Here it’s midway through the story when the realisation drops that all hell’s a coming. Jeremiah and Kurdy remain true to their personalities, and Hermann remains true to his talents, disguising the references that will have later relevance, and coming up with a great way to stop the unstoppable. He even manages a lovely moment of visual symbolism to underline the end of the road.

With more and more respected European series now having English language editions it’s about time someone gave Hermann his due.