Anna Mercury #1: The Cutter
by Warren Ellis, Facundo Percio (Avatar, 2009)

Back in 1943, a U.S. navy destroyer was unexpectedly and inexplicibly transported to a parallel "ghost" Earth, one of nine such worlds in out-of-phase orbit around our own planet. Although it was only 20 or so minutes before the ship suddenly BAMFed back to U.S. waters, its appearance and disappearance caused a great amount of consternation among the inhabitants there, who took it as a sign from some kind of post-industrial martial god.

Now, more than 60 years later, a special British agency known as the Constellation Project is still trying to repair the damage done to that society. With a NASA-like setup, Constellation sends lone agents to the damaged world for brief periods; while there, the agent has enhanced abilities, of course, but a short lifespan -- if they're not brought back in a timely fashion, they'll explode, messily. The current agent is Anna Briton -- codename: Anna Mercury -- who wears a black-and-red leather catsuit and an impossibly large red wig for her missions.

Anna Mercury's current mission is to stop one city-state, which witnessed the ship's materialization and has since become increasingly warlike and fanatical, from destroying another city-state, where no one saw the ship and the population has remained peaceful.

The setting in New Ataraxia is sort of like our world, circa the late 1940s/early '50s, but with certain science-fictiony enhancements. The story itself is thrilling enough, although one wonders why someone who is trying so hard to save a world would be so reckless with the lives she wastes in the process. One also wonders why, with so much at stake, only a single agent is on the job, and why only Britain is participating in the cleanup effort. (There are vague references to suggest other nations are involved in some capacity, possibly on other ghost worlds where no U.S. battleship appeared to cause any disruptions. It's a little confusing, really -- and, considering what's at stake on New Ataraxia in this story, it seems unlikely that a single agent would be enough -- even if she does combine the best attributes of James Bond and the Batman, with a little Superman thrown in for good measure.)

Anna Mercury is good eye candy, but the story itself is a little weak. I wouldn't consider reading this book an hour wasted ... but neither am I motivated to check to see if the story has continued since this volume's release.

review by
Tom Knapp

21 July 2012

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