United States vs Murder Inc #2 (of 6)

murder inc 2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Michael Avon Oeming

The Story So Far:

Jagger Rose is the first hit woman in the Bonavese crime family.  She was trained and groomed by her uncle Jake, a made man.  She makes her first hit, and then is brought to Don Bonavese, who pits her against a made man five times her size, as her last test.

Spoilerific Review:

The issue opens with a direct continuation of the last, with Jagger’s fight-to-the-death against Don Bonavese’s hitman.  He appears to get the upper hand, but Jagger wins out, first gouging out the guy’s eye and then smashing his head.

Flash forward to a month ago, as Jagger arrives at the Bonavese compound to receive a new hit.  One of the family’s own has been skimming off the top for years, despite warnings from the Don and others.  Jagger notes that they have never before given her details beyond a name and location, and she is told it’s because she is becoming more essential to the Family.

Jagger goes to the London Hotel to confront the offending party, only to discover that it is her own mentor, her uncle Jake, who apparently has a heroin problem.  Jake is understanding, even accepting, of his fate.  He knows what he’s done, and what the punishment is.  Jagger tries to convince him to run away with her, to Italy, to try and get himself straight, but he refuses.  Jagger cannot bring herself to kill Jake, so he does it for her, but not before telling her that he was glad it was her that came for him.

Jagger returns to the Bonavese family compound and asks that Jake’s name be kept off the record.  Don Bonavese agrees, as a favor to Jagger.

In the present day, Jagger and her partner Valentine discuss their being hung out to dry by the Family and the issue ends with them trying to decide what to do about it.

What works:

The action in the first five pages is pure Bendis.  It’s grindhouse-long and graphic.  Just what you would expect from a mature-rated Bendis book.  Oeming’s art accentuates the violence, theirs is a purely symbiotic relationship that, obviously, has long standing.

The time jumps also work well for the story, giving us just enough background to inform what’s going on in the present and future.  The entire issue is backstory for the present day, which, in a very JJ Abrams way, works very well for this story.

What Doesn’t Work:

The only qualm I have about this issue is that it’s a little hard to tell if Jagger paid for Jake’s name to be kept clean, or if it was a favor.  I took it as the money that was on the table was the money Jake had been skimming, or at least some of it, and that the agreement was a favor, but you could see it either way, with no clear direction from the storytellers.  Other than that, there’s very little wrong with this issue.

Rating 4.5/5

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