The United States of Murder, Inc. #2
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming launched this new series with some of their strongest material. The first issue included a literal bomb, followed by an even bigger, yet figurative bomb. It was an incredibly exciting opening chapter and the second issue looks to deal with much of the fallout. As chapter two opens, readers will see a distinct difference in coloring and text indicating a flash back, a possible hint and how things came to be as they are in this interesting new world.
The opening sequence is absolutely stunning. Taki Soma’s color palette is a very soft one, and while the scene is not black and white, her use of color creates the right sensibility to the flashback sequence. In it, two men prepare for a hit, but the spotter seems a bit unsettled by the situation. He keeps reflecting on how this one is different. Bendis’ writing peppers in little bits of dialogue as Jimmy and his partner settle in for the hit. At the same time, Oeming cuts panels quickly, showing each man, their perspective and their surroundings. The succession of images mixed with the bits from the spotter build the tension so impressively well. As for the payoff, the scene resolves in a way that could end the issue after a mere five pages and readers would be satisfied. It is a cool little vignette and the issue is only getting started.
The story cuts back to Brooklyn, in the present, and it would appear that not time has passed since issue 1 of Murder Inc. Valentine is still attempting to come to grips with the entire scenario as those around him trying to make sense of it for him. Bendis, always the master of dialogue, carries the exchange very well. It is interesting scenario that the man has been put in, and though to the reader the choice is clear, Valentine Gallo has every reason to choose a different path. It’s not long before the story finds a way to bring the red headed woman back into the picture, and here the plot only gets more intricate. The woman, Jagger Rose, and Valentine are now the only trusted individuals with Don Bonavese. He explains that the other families will assume the situation in Washington was their fault and would be coming for them. This reveal is loaded as it not only puts the individuals on the run, but informs readers that there are a number of mob families in the new world order and they do not necessarily get along.
The second chapter of Murder Inc contains a lot of exchanges. Between the scenes in the past and those between Valentine and his mother, the issue finds a way to build the characters and the story within individual conversations. Bendis proves that bullets do not need to be flying around for the story to progress. While not easy, he manages to keep this issue both informative and exciting. This is definitely partly due to the immense talent of Oeming and Soma. The use of color and shadow produce an incredible amount of emotion on the page. Soma’s ability to strike a tone and Oeming’s panel work make for a fantastic combination. It may be early in the series, but there is no question that The United States of Murder Inc is a must-read series.