The United States of Murder Inc. #1 takes us into a separate dimension where the Mafia rules large portions of the United States. The book is a crime thriller with what artist Michael Avon Oeming describes as “Neo Noir, using stark primary colors” as opposed to just black and white. Colorist Taki Soma really nails the primary colors and makes the characters bound off the page!
Writer Brian Michael Bendis begins the story introducing us to the main protagonist Valentine Gallo as he ritualistically enters the world of being a made man. The ritual is intense and Soma’s coloring emphasizes the seriousness of the situation with very dark blues and purples. Valentine completes the ritual and receives a pin for his demonstration of commitment to the family.
Soma’s coloring is on fresh display as the dark and serious nature of the ritual shifts to the celebration afterwards with bright greens and yellows. Oeming does a fantastic job showing the enormity of the family as the massive dining hall is filled to the brim with Mafioso. The scene harkens to the celebration of Don Corleone’s Papal Honors in Godfather Part III.
The story really gets moving when Valentine is taken to meet Don Tuzzo who sends him on a mission to Washington D.C. where he must deliver a briefcase to a sitting U.S. Senator. The exchange between Don Tuzzo and Valentine is lovely and really gives the reader a little insight into Valentine’s meticulous nature.
Valentine takes the train, giving Bendis an opportunity to display the violent culture of this alternate universe. He introduces Jagger Rose, a buxom readhead, who doesn’t take nothing from no one as she smashes a poor New York stock broker’s head open with a full bottle of whiskey. Jagger Rose’s swagger and brashness is refreshing and the sexual tension between her and Valentine is a riot to read.
The train finally arrives in Washington D.C. and Valentine delivers the briefcase as Don Tuzzo instructed and the mystery of the contents are interesting to say the least. Valentine leaves the Senator’s office when all hell breaks loose as the Senate building explodes. Valentine and Jagger Rose escape reporting to Family members of the incident as they attempt to determine what happened.
The story takes a dramatic twist when Valentine receives a phone call from his Mother, who asks him to come home immediately. What happens next is a major shock that leaves Valentine reeling. The cliffhanger will have readers coming back for more!
The United States of Murder Inc. #1 is a fantastic first entry with a gritty crime focus and excellent coloring that delivers a shock ending, you just have to read.
- Taki Soma's colors
- Interesting characters
- Excellent twist at the end
- Valentine is a little skittish for being a made-man