Rating: 4.5/5 – A Gripping Ending That Sets Up The Next Volume.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo
It’s been five long months, but The United States of Murder Inc. finally returns for the final issue in its first volume. As noted in Shawn’s review of issue #1, the series has indeed provided us with “engaging dialogue [and] stylized and vibrant art”, but also that long delay that he warned might occur. Still, I was in for the first five issues so I had to see how it played out, especially after the cliffhanger back in September. After reading this issue, I’m very glad I decided to stick around for the finale.
For those who may have forgotten in the intervening months, The United States of Murder Inc. posits a world where a few powerful mafia families control a large part of the United States. Each issue has provided a little bit of background on the years leading up to and since the takeover and this issue gives us perhaps the most jaw dropping of history lessons. I really like these little tidbits that writer Brian Michael Bendis has been feeding us, they don’t always tie in directly to the present narrative, but build upon the many layers that make up the rich tapestry of this world. This tapestry has had many loose threads, though, which Bendis masterfully pulls together this issue for a grand finale to the current story arc. I wouldn’t say the big reveal behind the events that kicked off the series was a surprise, but it was gripping and answered a lot of looming questions. There was a twist ending that I did not see coming, which shakes things up quite a bit moving forward and set things up nicely for what’s to come. It’s going to be interesting to see who survives the turmoil that is sure to follow in the next volume.
Michael Avon Oeming’s art this issue has been his best in the series. I thought his work was looking a bit rushed the past couple of issues, but he really stepped up his game for this final chapter. I thought the characters were much more detailed, particularly in some of the close-ups, and the layouts were super inventive. There’s a panel and a follow-up splash page specifically that succinctly captures a ridiculous level of violence and bad-assery and exemplifies how strong his panel work is this issue. Whether this is all a product of the delay or not, I do not know, but it almost makes the delay worth it. I also realize that Oeming’s art is not for everyone, but there’s plenty to appreciate here regardless of personal preference. Taki Soma’s heavy use of color themes continues this issue, which helps to set the mood scene after scene and distinguishes between the various characters and story threads. However, as things started to come together, I noticed that the color palette became more subtle, almost creating a whole new scenario where all the characters could live. There is genuine thought put into the color scheme and together with the writing and art, it has become an integral part of the story.
I have to admit that during the long wait between issues, I contemplated dropping this series. I don’t want to focus on the delay because there is a lot to love about this book, but that is definitely not a good thing when the delay becomes a factor to consider like with this series. But this issue completely sold me on the series once again. There was a synergy between the writing and art that showcased the strengths of all involved and as a result I’m really looking forward to where this creative team takes us next volume. The letters page mentions that it will be a while, but at least now I can go into the next journey of murder, mayhem, and mobsters with my eyes open.
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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