A 12-year-old girl is introduced to a family of assassins, hitmen, and murder generations in the making in this week’s UNITED STATES VS. MURDER INC. #1 as Brian Michael Bendis debuts another Jinxworld original. Let’s jump in and take a look!
CREATED BY: Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
COLORS: Taki Soma
LETTERS: Carlos Mangual
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
U.S. VS MURDER INC. SPOILERS TOO!
The story opens with a little girl named Jagger telling a story to her class about her father being pushed off a building to his death. As her Uncle Jake comes to pick her up from school, readers find out that Jagger was not only telling the truth, but her father was a trained hitman. After school, Jagger’s Uncle takes her to a guy that’s tied up, beaten, and gagged. It turns out; this is the man that pushed her Dad off the building and killed him.
At this moment in the story, Jagger chose to go down the path of her father, her Uncle, and her family before her. She decided to join the business at that moment by stabbing the man who killed her father through the eye. As the story ends, readers see Jagger raised by her Uncle Jake from 12 years old until she finally gets her opportunity to impress the Padrino. However, her last challenge is a fight to the death against some muscle-bound goon. Can Jagger survive and become the first female trained assassin in her family line?
Bendis’ debut of UNITED STATES VS. MURDER INC. was fast, clever, and unique. Readers have seen female assassins in comics and movies alike, but often the narrative is centered around their adulthood. Bendis’ issue shows readers the introduction to the family business and bounces around from time period to time period smoothly.
From start to finish, UNITED STATES VS. MURDER INC. was straightforward and easy to understand. Bendis laid out Jagger’s motivation for becoming an assassin for hire early on and gradually gave readers a little taste of each aspect of her life to that point. My hope is that Bendis continues to focus more on Jagger learning the ”craft” and less on the present.
Michael Avon Oeming’s art is definitely his own style. He uses clean, angular, sharp edges and thick, dark lines which portray a shadowy cartoon-like tone that’s contradictory to what the reader may be expecting from a more adult-themed comic. Taki Soma, who’s worked with this group of guys before, uses different color schemes in different panels to help change and elevate the mood of the issue very well. Oeming and Soma’s artistic style is not my favorite blend for this type of story. However, the clashing differences between this approach with the plot are an interesting choice that has left me more curious for what’s to come.
In addition to Oeming and Soma’s contributions, Carlos Mangual’s lettering was well placed and guided the narrative fluently. However, the placement of the time stamp on page 14 was at the bottom of the page instead of the top and put these panels six years into the past. At first read, my impression was the sniper scene took place the same day as when Jagger stabbed her Dad’s killer, which was not the case. This didn’t hinder the overall plot, but it did take me out of the story for a bit while placing the time period.
Should you buy this issue and add it to your pull list?
From the first page, Bendis grabbed the readers attention by showing Jagger’s father falling to his doom and he never let off the gas throughout the rest of the issue. Normally, my enjoyment comes from Superheroes and Science Fiction comics. However, this issue caught me by surprise making this reviewer excited for what’s to come.
In short, I strongly recommend readers give UNITED STATES VS. MURDER INC. a chance, especially if you’re a Bendis fan. The story makes sense, the character motivations seem genuine, and the female lead shows so much development in just one issue that you’ll be excited to see her transformation in the next issue. From the perspective of a Superhero, Sci-Fi fan, give this issue a buy, add it to your pull list for now, and tell me what you think. This reviewer stepped out of his comfort zone and landed on something compelling and intriguing. Maybe you will too?