Now I just love Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming; it’s a highly enjoyable book with great characters, intriguing police crime drama with superheroes thrown in the mix and very compelling moments throughout. (The first eight volumes that I’ve read anyways.) Now another book by this creative team of Bendis and Oeming, The United States of Murder Inc., has hit the shelves. I’ve been excited for this one for some time; now that it has finally come out, is it good?
The United States of Murder Inc. #1 (Icon Comics)
Valentine Gallo has been initiated into the biggest crime organization in existence, one that seems to control most of the U.S. in various forms. His first assignment as a made man is to deliver a briefcase to a senator in Washington D.C. Seems easy enough, right? He is joined by his cousin Dino and Jagger Rose, an old friend of the family who is sent to keep an eye on him.
For the hundredth time Sally, this is not how you serve customers at the bar!
This is a meaty first issue, especially if you buy the digital version to get the bonus content. With over 30 pages of the story, the first issue of the series is off to an interesting start. Though essentially an introduction to this large story, establishing the characters, the setting, and history of the world they live in — we don’t learn too much about how the world came to be or a lot of its history, most of the details being rather vague and hush-hush at this point. We also don’t learn or get much depth from the characters early on either, just a basic idea of who they are and a bit of their personality. Not a lot to sympathize with at this stage of the game, but enough to intrigue.
Now while we didn’t get a lot of clarification on the history or mythology of this world, it’s still interesting. The concepts seen in the story, like how the mafia apparently runs a lot of the country and has certain powers, is interesting and makes you want to know more. Plus, the story goes in rather interesting directions towards the end with some fascinating twists.
Of course you get the receipt! This job is tax deductible after all!
The rest of the writing is pretty decent overall. Being a comic by Brian Michael Bendis, this is a very dialogue heavy comic. The dialogue isn’t really bad at all, with a couple of good lines in there, but this comic likes to tell a lot more than show at points. The storytelling is reasonable, with no problems in the story flow or structure, outside of one panel that doesn’t fit the story. The ending is also pretty good and goes with what I said about the comic being good at hooking you in for an extra issue or two.
The artwork is probably what will hook you in the most here. Michael Avon Oeming’s artwork looks great as always. The characters look decent (though some share similar hair styles and faces) with a good range emotions and expressions, the layouts are easy to read and follow (even if the comic goes overboard at points with so many double page spreads), it’s nice and moody at the right points, and there are plenty of impressive looking images. The coloring is a bit interesting though, done by Taki Soma (who is married to Oeming), since it looks like almost every scene goes through a color filter. It’s fine and can help with capturing the right mood, but some of the pages look a bit off or alien.
Should your tongue be bleeding that much blood?
Is It Good?
The United States of Murder Inc. #1 shows a lot of potential with its setup, concepts, and twists alone. Having some good writing and unique, but gorgeous visuals only sweetens the deal. It could use some more ironing out in areas, but as is, this kind of comic should be right up your alley.