Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rei Hiroe
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Available Now
A pirate’s life is definitely not easy and certainly not pretty either.
Black Lagoon is the type of series that fires its twin guns in a no-holds-barred, over-the-top sort of way that makes this a fun action-series worth following. It’s also able to tell an almost heartbreaking tale even among the bullet-fueled action. Volume 3 of Black Lagoon is proof of that as the story continues the story arc of child assassins that have gone too far and a man who still doesn’t fully understand the criminal underworld as well as he thought.
Volume 2 introduced two Romanian twins that go by the handle Hansel and Gretel and, much like the characters from the Brothers Grimm tale, these children suffered through and survived a horrifying fate that has branched out into a surreally psychotic epilogue. As assassins hired to take out Balalaika, the head of Hotel Moscow, the twins even turn on their employers who happened to have been the Italian mob working in Roanpur. Having already slain two of Balalaika’s trusted men, the calm Russian Commander called in help from Moscow as well as formed an alliance with Mister Chang of the Chinese Triad. In addition to that, she even set up a reward to the local bounty hunters in town.
Of course, Revy isn’t one to pass up the chance of earning some cash thanks to word from Eda who works for the gun merchants that happen to be nuns (or posing as nuns). The manhunt for the twins leads to some gunfights when Mister Chang encounters the twins and takes them on with little success. Meanwhile, Revy and Eda do manage to catch up to Hansel and Gretel and they’re even less successful as well. It isn’t until the twins are separated that Balalaika shows that she’s more than capable of carrying out an intricate plan. She’s definitely one woman you do not want to get angry.
As one part of Balalaika’s plan goes through, Gretel takes Eda hostage in order to convince the Lagoon Traders to accept her as a client looking to get out of Roanpur. Of course, this puts the crew of the Black Lagoon in direct conflict with Balalaika’s agenda. As he did in the first volume, it is Rock that keeps a very different child company. His expression when Gretel tells him how she views the world breaks his heart but the truly heartbreaking moment comes during the end of the chapter.
In the next chapter, Mister Chang comes to the Lagoon Traders with a briefcase that has already caused him plenty of grief. It seems that a Bulgarian Intelligence operative was attempting to peddle arms in Mister Chan’s territory within Roanpur but when Chang threatens him the operative hands over a briefcase with highly sensitive documents connected to Hezbollah. The mission is to transport the documents to the CIA in an island nearby. Well, this is easier said than done when Hezbollah and a Japanese associate of theirs catches wind that the crew of the Black Lagoon have the briefcase.
Having attacked the Lagoon Traders’ headquarters, Dutch and the crew find themselves in a tight spot on the journey to the island. Fighting their way to land almost becomes impossible and once on the mainland it is up to Revy and Rock to make contact with a driver. The problem is that the Japanese associate is there to greet them. The chase is on to not only deliver the documents but also save Rock as an Irish driver and a female assassin named Shenhua decide to help out Revy. These chapters are by far one of the most action-packed chapters in the series so far with an outcome that will continue in Volume 4.
I said it once and I’ll say it again, manga doesn’t get as action-packed as Black Lagoon. It’s highly-explosive, high energy storytelling really does make this an exciting read and I have to say that I am definitely looking forward to the next volume. Rei Hiroe, you have done it again.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Balalaika’s problem with the assassin twins Hansel and Gretel comes to a startling and violent conclusion and Mister Change of the Chinese Triad turns out to be totally awesome in this volume. Meanwhile, a dangerous assignment pits the Lagoon Traders up against a dangerous terrorist faction within Hezbollah.
Rei Hiroe knows how to make his action scenes really stand out just as good as most of his characters. Then again, since this is the third volume, you probably already knew that.
On top of the stellar storytelling, Volume 3 of Black Lagoon is powerfully emotional yet outrageously crazy in the best way possible. Despite the sad Hansel and Gretel chapter, the bullets still fly and the blood still flows in this action-packed volume that just doesn’t disappoint on all fronts.