United States vs. Murder, Inc. #1 (of 6)

murder inc 1

Written By: Brian Michael Bendis

Art by: Michael Avon Oeming


The Story So Far:

Well, uh…that’s up for debate.  There doesn’t seem to be any concrete answer as to whether this is a continuation of the Icon series or a totally new story, so I’ll just treat this as the latter.

Spoilerific Summary:

Issue #1 opens with a man falling from a building, narrated by his daughter, who we discover is nine year old Jagger Rose.  The caption puts this eleven years in the past.  She’s telling the story of her dad’s death to her class.  The horrified teacher only has a moment to realize that this just happened days ago, when the class is interrupted by Jagger’s uncle, Jake.  Jake informs the teacher that he needs to take Jagger for some family business.  That business, it turns out, is to tell Jagger that her father was pushed off the building, he was whacked. And Jake has the guy who did it.  He offers Jagger the chance for revenge, which she takes even before Jake is finished saying the words.

Flash forward to a 14 year old Jagger accompanying her Uncle Jake on a hit.  He tells her that if she’s going to be an enforcer, she’s going to have to be good.  Really good.  She’s a pioneer, there’s no other female mod hit…persons.  Jagger would be it.  Jake sets her up for her first kill from a rooftop across from their target and talks her through her first kill.

Flash forward to “one year ago” which, if my math is correct, shows us a 19 or 20 year old Jagger Rose meeting with Don Bonavese, who appears to be in charge of the mob.  Jagger is there to make her bones.   She stands ready to engage in a hand-to-hand battle to the death with a mobster three times her size as the issue ends.

What Works: 

Bendis Being Bendis:  Back in 2000 there were two things that pulled me back into comics after a three year absence.  One was Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men.  The other was Ultimate Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis.  Some people love him, some hate him.  I’m the former.  I’ll read anything he writes, and after reading Ultimate Spidey, I deep dove into Jinx and Fire and later Powers.  There was a time when I would pick up books just because Bendis’ name was on it.  I feel like this both hearkens back to his Goldfish-era days of crime comics and proves that he is reinvigorated with the move to DC.  In later weeks, I’ll be reviewing his Superman and Action Comics monthlies (both of which are just as stellar, but for different reasons), but for this week, United States vs. Murder Inc #1 is a fantastic reboot/continuation of a great concept: what if the Mob had won their war with the FBI in the 1930’s?

Oeming’s Art:  A little different than his style on Powers, but just by a hair, Oeming’s turned in some of his best work on this issue.  The action flows, and it’s always fun to look at. The rooftop scene where Jake is talking Jagger through her first hit is particularly good.

The Colors:  The coloring by Taki Soma is amazing, and really pulls the story together.  Blues, greens, purples, and reds highlight this issue, giving it a cartoony (but not TOO cartoony) feel.  You feel Jagger’s emotions in the scene where she takes her vengeance on her father’s murderer, accented by the blue hues.

What Doesn’t Work:

What’s Going On:  Well, frankly, it would be nice to know if this IS, in fact, a continuation of the previous series.  I suppose more will come to light soon enough.  It is Bendis, after all.

The Colors:  What?  Didn’t I just praise the colors?  Yeah.  And while they work, and beautifully so, I can’t help but wonder what this would look like as a black and white book.  Probably just the nostalgia talking.  So this isn’t REALLY a “What Doesn’t Work”, it’s more of a musing on my part.

Rating 4.5/5

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