By Leroy Douresseaux
October 9, 2009 - 14:33
|Black Lagoon Volume 8 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “M” for “Mature”
With its small crew of mercenaries, The Black Lagoon, a modified, World War II torpedo boat, prowls the waters off the coast of Southeast Asia. Vietnam vet Dutch the Boss is the boss. Benny the Mechanic handles the boat’s complicated high tech electronics. Revy Two Hand is the ultra-lethal, gunslinger, and Rock, the corporate crony formerly known as Rokuro Okajima, just ended up part of the crew. Through Dutch’s company, Lagoon Traders, this quartet operates a maritime courier service out of Roanapur, Thailand, but the big money comes from their side job – piracy.
The “El Baile de la Muerte” storyline continues in Black Lagoon, Vol. 8. Roberta is the head matron of the Lovelace family, one of South America’s 13 great families. She returned to Roanapur on a mission to avenge the assassination of her boss, Diego Lovelace. Diego’s preteen son, Garcia, now head of the Lovelace Family, came to Roanapur in hopes of bringing Roberta home. Accompanied by Roberta’s subordinate Fabiola (also good with a firearm), Garcia sought Lagoon Traders’ help, but most of the crew wanted no part of Roberta or her mission. However, Rock managed to convince Revy to help him help Diego.
Now, Roberta has finally caught up with her target, a U.S. unconventional Special Forces unit known as “Grey Fox.” Meanwhile, Rock and Revy recruit extra guns for their mission – Revy’s rival, Shenhua (the “Chinglish Gal”), and her compatriots, Lotton and Sawyer. Behind the scenes, criminal overlords move to stop Roberta’s mission before she kills the Americans and brings down the wrath of the United States on Roanapur.
THE LOWDOWN: There is so much action in Black Lagoon that any one volume is like two whole action movies. I’ve often wondered why I remain engaged by this violent series with a narrative that often seems like one long gun fight scene. Perhaps, it is because creator Rei Hiroe simply traps the reader in this world through a creative use of graphic design and illustration.
Mostly eschewing splash pages, Hiroe crams the pages of Black Lagoon with multiple panels: verticals, horizontals, thumbnails, and panels seemingly of every geometric shape. He packs most of those panels with action lines, twisting human figures, big-lettered sound effects, blood spray, weapons, and close-ups of character faces. Each panel is connected to another and that to another to form a rapid rhythm of high-octane action. As the reader tries to decipher the pandemonium in each panel, he can’t help but be engaged, even captivated, by this manga that delivers murder and mayhem with the kind of intelligence rarely scene in action movies.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: When readers want action that rips and roars, they want Black Lagoon.