Pete is hanging out at the beach with his friends Claire and Toby when they find a strange creature. He looks a little fishy, but he seems friendly enough and tells them his name is Mermin…and he’s a merman…from Mer. There’s a lot of mystery around Mermin, but Pete makes friends with him anyway and he’s soon hiding out in their house and going to school. School is one great big new adventure for Mermin, except for one little problem: he’s scared of the water. Unfortunately, Pete has more than one little problem: Mermin causes trouble wherever he goes and Pete is already being teased at school. When Mermin’s past catches up with him, will he and Pete still be friends, or will Mermin have to go back to Mer?
This is a fun, action-packed introduction to a new series that’s sure to be popular with kids. The art is bright and colorful with lots of comic flair. Mermin manages to be both alien and yet human, with his pop-eyed enthusiasm over everyday things as he races through the story. There’s lots of comic “Bam!” and “Pow!” but no actual blood or gore, and even the moments of mild peril aren’t too frightening.
I read this in an unbound galley, so the layout may be different in the finished book, but I especially appreciated the large type and bold panels, making the combination of simple story and clear art and type a good choice for beginning readers. The various merpeople are weird and cool, but not too scary, and the parallels drawn between Mermin’s bigger problems and Pete’s troubles at school offer some mild lessons in friendship.
There’s sure to be more to Mermin’s saga, since this is clearly an introductory story. It’s heavy on fast action and character introduction, but there’s obviously a lot of plot to be filled in later. Fans of light-hearted, funny adventures with lots of eye-popping color and action will enjoy this series.
Mermin, vol. 1
by Joey Weiser
Oni Press, 2013