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United States vs. Murder Inc #1 Review

American crime comes into focus in this assassin tale.

Michael Avon Oeming and Brian Michael Bendis are back with United States vs. Murder Inc, a new series in the Jinxworld line. This one is about crime bosses, criminal enterprises, and assassins who want to follow in the footsteps of their fathers. It’s an American story which, much like the best of them, leads with a trail of blood.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Years ago, the five families of organized crime had such a stranglehold over the American public that the U.S. government found itself forced to give up part of the country or lose all of it. Now the unrest between America and the families has come to a boil. A war is about to come–a war no one is ready for. Newly made man Valentine Gallo and mob hitwoman Jagger Rose find themselves torn over which side of the war they want to be on. United States of murder, Inc. #1 was voted the single best issue of the year by IGN.

Why does this matter?

Bendis understands criminal storytelling and this is no different. Its lead is a woman who wants to become an assassin in an industry where women are never assassins. It’s a tale of sexism in a world of death. Sounds like my kind of story.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

I don’t think he has a chance. Credit: DC Comics

This first issue introduces us to a little girl who loses her father. In the opening pages, we are privy to her class report that reveals her father was killed in a not-so-nice way. Soon we follow her path to follow in her father’s footsteps and that path is dangerous. The story is opening up a world of gangsters and allegiances that are familiar if you’re a fan of Martin Scorsese’s films. At its core it’s also about a woman breaking boundaries and doing what others have said is impossible. So in many ways, it’s deeply American in its journey for the character and the worlds she’s about to circumnavigate.

Oeming brings his customary art style to a gritty and uncompromising violent world. If you’ve read Cave Carson you know how colorful and imaginative his art can be. Rendered here in a story that is usually dark, hyper-realistic, and moody, you’ll note how his style makes it all different and new. He uses bright colors, renders characters somewhat cartoony, and that makes this world even more interesting. There’s a great sequence where Oeming shows off his storytelling chops with a sniper scope serving as a framing device. It draws you into the act and what is being conveyed by the main character. Overall this style may not be for everyone, especially with a gritty crime element, but it’s so expressive it’s hard to deny how effective it can be.

Nope, not a one. Credit: DC Comics

It can’t be perfect can it?

Unfortunately, the synopsis seems to tell an entirely different story than what is here. This first issue is more about a girl going down a seemingly impossible path so as to follow her father. It’s more about an assassin’s life than anything to do with organized crime. Adding to this gripe, the story so far doesn’t do much new in the grand scheme of things. The storytelling is great, but the premise and plot is stuff we’ve seen before.

Is it good?

A good first issue that delivers on a tale of a unique type of assassin working in a world that is against her in many different ways. The storytelling is fantastic here, but so far the premise and plot may seem ordinary.

United States vs. Murder Inc #1
Is it good?
A strong start that is uncompromisingly brutal with an interesting lead you'll want to follow along with.
Brutal, uncompromising, and interesting
Oeming's art is as strong as ever
The story so far feels ordinary in the assassin, child-assassin narrative

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