Welcome back to the nasty, grimy world of Gangsta. as we dive further and further into the backstory of Marco and his time with the Destroyers. Things are about to get very interesting for our lead. Is it good?
Story by: Kohske
Artwork by: Syuhei Kamo
Translated by: Christine Schilling
Lettering by: Eric Erbes
Publisher: Viz Media
The more and more Twilights Spas fights and kills, the more he realizes how truly horrible things are and he starts to question all of his training and everything he had believed in. Then, when a comrade of his goes to do the unthinkable, Spas is left with a choice: Continue his mission or turn his back on his life and all of his friends. Everything changes here.
While I enjoyed the first volume, I felt Gangsta: Cursed ended right as it was about to get really good and juicy, with Spas/Marco finally waking up and realizing the horrors of what is actually going on. This volume feels like an appropriate step forward in both the right direction and in quality overall. The story feels like things are happening more in both plot and character development. We’re seeing different angles from many groups of people that tie into events in the present. We’re learning more about the motivations of the characters and even the Destroyers as a whole, as well as see some small to big key moments for the characters that’ll definitely affect them going forward. The volume isn’t as packed as some of the volumes from the main series, but there is a lot to bite into this outing with plenty to enjoy and like.
Character development sees the greatest improvement from the first volume to this one. While I liked the subtle hints and nods in the first volume regarding people’s motivations, this book sets the story straight and dives into some flashbacks to flesh some people out. While Striker and Beretta remain pretty much just plain sadists and killers, we gain more insight into the other members of the Destroyers. Maverick/Marie is primarily motivated by an absurd amount of revenge due to the death of the only person she cares about, refusing to listen to any reason or questioning of her job. The loved one’s death is quite curious though and the reasoning is very suspicious (hints about how the Destroyers are found or made?), so hopefully that’ll be expanded upon. Minimi is pretty much killing for money like the last book established, but we at least learn it’s related to supporting his family. Despite his inhumanity and cruelty, there is a semblance of something human to him now and I do appreciate that touch of extra dimension.
Spas/Marco undergoes the most character development and fleshing out. While I initially thought his reason for hunting Twilights was for revenge, the flashbacks and insight we gain paints a different picture. It shows him as a kid, being fed and conditioned to believe Twilights are evil through propaganda, training, and pressure from his allies. Then finally, when he is put into the actual field and is killing, seeing for himself what he is actually doing, it finally hits him the horror of his actions. It’s reminiscent of Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a way, though more brutal and harsher, showing that Spas has a long way to go to make up for his deeds and violence. The ending makes that painfully clear and it should be quite intriguing to see what happens next, especially since we know where he is in the present.
Kohske’s writing is still good, with some minor issues. While I do appreciate the characterization we got with some of the Destroyers, I wish it was spread around more or that we got to spend more time with some of the cast, like Connie’s parents or a few of the Twilights. A lot of these people die and the very brief emotional points with them are strong, I feel it would almost be a bit stronger if the story spent some more time with them before all of this. The dialogue is fine and the pacing feels improved, taking its time in some parts to flesh out the scenes and not just speed through everything. The tone is still very bleak and cold, though with Spas’ change, it does seem like the relentless cruelty and harshness is about to slow down thankfully. Maybe not TOO much, but it feels toned down. Either way, I enjoyed the writing and was pleased to see some improvements with it.
Syuhei Kamo’s artwork looks great here as it did in the previous book. Kamo still has an eye for capturing Kohske’s style, just bringing it to life on the pages to a point where you almost wonder if Kohske really drew the manga here. While I still question the female characters wearing heels (seriously, it feels like heels would inhibit this kind of combat), the characters are still drawn well, staying on model and able to convey all the right moods and emotions as the scenes call for them. The drama is depicted strongly, leading to some intense and nerve-wracking moments, such as Spas’ confrontation with Marie. The action is fantastic, with a terrific sense of the motion, energy, and power that just draws your eyes to every panel and bit of detail in it. If not for the fact that Kohske herself is out of the hospital and resuming work on the main series, I feel Kamo would be a great person to take over drawing Gangsta. if Kohske couldn’t handle that anymore.
Gangsta: Cursed. EP_Marco Adriano Vol. 2 is a solid continuation of the first volume, improving upon what was presented by fleshing out some of the characters and slowing down the pacing at times. It suffers from a weaker supporting cast that’s not fully explored, but the writing and artwork are really great. Overall, for those who want some more of this world and its characters, definitely give this book a shot.