While on a business trip in Southeast Asia, Japanese “salaryman,” Rokuro Okajima, is kidnapped by a band of smugglers. Abandoned by his company, Rokuro takes on the name, “Rock,” and joins his abductors. They are Vietnam vet, Dutch the Boss; Benny the Mechanic, who handles the boat’s complicated high tech electronics, and Revy Two Hand, the ultra-lethal, gunslinger. With Rock, this now-quartet is the baddest band of mercenaries on the high seas of Southeast Asia, sailing aboard the vessel, “the Black Lagoon,” a modified, World War II torpedo boat. Through Dutch’s company, “Lagoon Traders,” this quartet operates a maritime courier service out of Roanapur, Thailand, a dangerous city that is rotten with military, ex-military, gangsters, drug dealers, and more of the worse people in the world.
As Black Lagoon, Vol. 11 (Chapter 77: “The Wired Red Wild Card”) opens, Rock and Revy are trying to help Feng Yifei, a former spy for the Chinese Liberation Army. Feng's failures have led to her being disavowed by the government she once served, and now she is being hunted by the Chinese government's hired killers.
Rock and Revy have accompanied Feng to an Internet cafe where she tries to burn data that will help buy her protection (hopefully) from some organization that will want the information she has. However, a Chinese operative has hired a group of “mixed-race” brothers to assassinate Feng, and they have caught up with her at the cafe. The ensuing shootout will leave Revy and one of the brothers in police custody, forcing the former salaryman into action. Now, Rock has to come up with a plan that will both save Revy and appease whoever wants to save Feng from the People's Republic of China.
THE LOWDOWN: The Black Lagoon manga was a burning hot property and was eventually adapted into an anime series. However, after the ninth volume of the graphic novel (tankobon) series was published in North America in 2010, the tenth volume did not appear until 2015. Creator Rei Hiroe insisted, in an “afterword” published in Vol. 10, that the series had not been on hiatus between the ninth and tenth volumes... no matter what anyone else said.
Black Lagoon Graphic Novel Volume 11 is arriving in North America nearly five years after the arrival of Vol. 10. I am a big fan of this series, but I had to read one hundred pages into Vol. 11 before I found myself back in the groove of its narrative. Of course, it was a big shootout scene that reminded me of why I like this high-flying, balls-to-wall, bullet-blasting, adult-action manga.
So my final analysis is that Black Lagoon remains the same. There are character dynamics, deal-making, and interpersonal relationships involving various kinds of obligation. But the best of Black Lagoon is still its explosive action, and that is still here. Hopefully, we will not have to wait another five years for Vol. 12...
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Readers who want a supreme gunfight-manga will want the VIZ Signature title, Black Lagoon.