The United States vs. Murder Inc. #3 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Michael Avon Oeming, Artist; Taki Soma, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The title of this comic, changed from the original The United States of Murder Inc, was always a mystery until this issue. We’ve been introduced to new lead character Jagger Rose, and saw how original character Valentine made his return to the title. This issue, though, the war breaks out in earnest and there are casualties. When the issue opens, the President – a one-eyed woman who is clearly tired of this – addresses the country about a recent attack by the crime syndicate, declaring it an act of war, and she wastes no time planning her retaliation. At the Bonavese family’s compound, the Don is giving a speech and Valentine and Jagger are quietly plotting their next move. Then all hell breaks loose as the US orders an airstrike courtesy of dropped mini-bombs that devastates the headquarters. The main characters escape with their lives, but Valentine’s mother is critically injured and her fate hangs in the balance for most of the issue.
Oeming’s depiction of the chaos in the immediate aftermath of the bombing is the closest he’s gotten in this run to the surreal art he did on Cave Carson’s book. This is a much more grounded title, but in this grotesque two-page spread showing dozens of bodies, he does a surprisingly great job of capturing the horror of the war these characters have found themselves in. They’re ruthless hitmen and assassins, but their world has been blown up and Bendis makes sure we can still empathize with them in these moments. In the aftermath, Valentine is swept away with the rest of his family and taken to Tokyo to hide out, but Don Bonavese is planning anything but a relaxing exile. He puts Valentine and Jagger together to plan a massive retaliatory strike against the US, with the President as target #1. It’s a pretty strong hook for the second half of this pitch-black noir series.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.