United States vs. Murder Inc. #1 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Michael Avon Oeming, Artist; Taki Soma, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The second of two Jinxworld titles to debut this week, United States vs. Murder Inc. #1 is a relaunch of an Icon series from a few years back that dealt with a world where powerful mobs ran America from behind the scenes. With a compelling, noirish plot and some great art from Powers and Cave Carson artist Michael Avon Oeming, it was one of Bendis’ stronger recent creator-owned efforts. It was also gone for a very long time, simply stopping after about two arcs.
With it coming back after so long, it makes sense that Bendis and Oeming have drastically shifted focus. There’s a new lead character and a new narrative, and it’s going to be awhile before we find out how they connect with the previous run. The issue opens with a woman narrating the death of her father, wondering what he went through in the moments before he hit the ground after being tossed off a skyscraper. Then it’s revealed that the narrator is actually a little girl named Jagger, addressing the death of her father with odd coldness in front of her elementary school class. She’s eventually picked up by her mafioso Uncle Jake.
This begins Jagger’s quick, brutal entry into the world of Murder Inc. Jake takes her to a black site where her father’s killer is being held and tortured by members of Jake’s mob. Jake gives Jagger the opportunity to kill her father’s killer, thinking she never will – and before he knows what he’s said, Jagger’s stabbed the man to death.
Jagger soon makes her first hit, assassinating a target of the mob while only twelve years old. Lurking under Jake’s caution with his niece is the underlying fact that women are not supposed to be enforcers in the mob. There’s a racial metaphor that may be a bit clumsy but works in context, and the end of the issue makes very clear that some high-ranking people will do anything they must to ensure Jagger never becomes a full Made Woman.
This book looks great, with some of Oeming and Soma’s art being among their best work. The issue is, unlike Cover, this is very much a story we’ve seen before. It’s a good example of that story so far, but I’m not sure that’s enough to make it stand out in an era where everyone – Bendis included – is upping the creator-owned game.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.