Saturday, June 13, 2015

#IReadsYou Review: BLACK LAGOON Volume 10


LETTERS: John Hunt, Primary Graphix
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7772-2; paperback (April 2015); Rated “M” for “Mature”
192pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 U.K.

The baddest mercenaries on the high seas of Southeast Asia sail aboard the “Black Lagoon,” a modified, World War II torpedo boat.  Prowling the waters off the coast of Southeast Asia is a small crew of four.  There is Vietnam vet, Dutch the Boss, and Benny the Mechanic, who handles the boat’s complicated high tech electronics.  Revy Two Hand is the ultra-lethal, gunslinger, and Rock, the corporate crony formerly known as Rokuro Okajima, just ended up part of the crew.  Through Dutch’s company, Lagoon Traders, this quartet operates a maritime courier service out of Roanapur, Thailand, a dangerous city rotten with military, ex-military, gangsters, drug dealers, etc.

Black Lagoon, Vol. 10 has a singular focus on Chapter 77: The Wired Red Wild Card.  Benny's lascivious girlfriend, Jane, arrives in town with naughty plans to make love to Benny... and sometimes to rape him.  The tech-savvy Jane, who leads an international counterfeiting group, however, has even darker plans for her latest recruit, Feng Yifei, a Chinese spy.

The plan is for Feng to hack into Reinbach A.G., a German electronics manufacturer, in order to steal the avionics data the company is developing.  Jane's real motive is to blackmail the Chinese government, an act which leaves, Feng, who is enlisted in the Chinese military, as the scapegoat.  Now, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has hired men to kill Feng.  Some of the crew of the Black Lagoon are sympathetic, but they would rather not bring Feng's trouble on themselves.  What will she do?

I think the last time the Black Lagoon manga was published in North America was in 2010, when VIZ Media published Vol. 9.  In an afterword published in Black Lagoon Volume 10, series creator, Rei Hiroe, seems determined to make his readers understand two things.  He has been working on the series during the five years between Vols. 9 and 10, and he was not on hiatus, no matter how many people say he was.

He doesn't need to explain anything to me, at least.  I did miss Black Lagoon and often wondered what happened to the series.  I love it.  It's the comic book that The Punisher should be like, although DC Comic's recently launched Deathstroke series (2014) reminds me of Black Lagoon.  While Vol. 9 was a shoot 'em up fest, Vol. 10 is short on the kind of explosive gun battles that have come to define this series, although there are a few ballets of bullets.

In this chapter, Hiroe takes a deeper look at the personalities and philosophies of Revy and Rock, particularly from the standpoint of how each views getting involved in other people's affairs.  I think this is a way of encouraging the readers to be invested in the crew of the Black Lagoon, and it worked on me.  I suddenly find myself drawn to Revy as an intriguing mystery girl and not simply as a cool bitch with two smoking guns.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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