United States vs. Murder Inc. #2 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Michael Avon Oeming, Artist; Taki Soma, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Last issue’s debut introduced us to Jagger Rose, the young assassin who seems to be the main character of Brian Michael Bendis’ United States vs. Murder Inc. We’ve seen her story before – the young woman trying to make it in a man’s world – but the unflinching brutality with which Bendis depicts her initiation is compelling.
Last issue’s cliffhanger saw her facing her final test – a hand-to-hand combat with the Don’s most trusted soldier. It’s pretty clear that it’s intended to spell her end, as the agents of the Don watch her get beaten with glee. When she turns the tide and brutally dispatches her opponent, it’s one of the most extreme fight scenes I’ve seen in comics – some people are going to find this issue pretty hard to read. But by the time the battle is over, Jagger stands alone, minus some teeth but with the Don’s approval at long last.
However, while her initiations are over, there’s one final test awaiting her – and it’s by far the hardest.
The story then flashes forward several months, as Jagger carries out missions for the Don. Then she gets word of one last mission – a simple assassination of a made man who’s been embezzling and racking up debts to the mob that he hasn’t paid. At least it’s supposed to be simple – until it turns out to be Jagger’s Uncle Jake, the man who raised her after the death of her father and initiated her into the mob.
He’s fallen on hard times and the mob’s lost patience with him. While they want him gone, it’s also clear that this is their way to test Jagger’s loyalty. The final scenes, involving Jagger and Jake deciding what to do with this impossible situation, are Bendis’ writing at its best. Before long, though, the story is moving forward fast with the return of Valentine Gallo, this title’s original lead. I don’t think this is quite as strong as Pearl or Cover, but when it’s on, it is REALLY on.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.