Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rei Hiroe
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Media)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Now Available
Nazis, gangsters, arms dealing nuns and psychotic children … just another day for the Lagoon Traders.
It’s a cutthroat world out there whether you’re a suit working for a greedy corporation or a crewmember aboard a U-boat filled with armed thugs looking to make a cool buck. This is what Rokuro Okajima – who is now just known as Rock – just figured out when he was left to die by the hands of the company he worked for and abandoned to work for the crew of the Black Lagoon. As it turns out, his new job isn’t any safer either.
Volume 2 of Black Lagoon finds Rock continuing his role as the “new guy” who finds himself performing random tasks for the Black Lagoon Traders when Dutch calls him over for an interesting task. You see, several years ago during World War II, a German U-boat set sail transporting a Japanese officer as well as a loyal SS officer carrying a rare painting. Unfortunately, for them, the Germans encountered an American ship that managed to pounce the U-boat to the point that is sunk like a rock to the bottom of the sea. Hired to retrieve the painting years later, Dutch picks Rock and Revy to dive down to the U-boat and bring back the painting.
When they do manage to breach the old relic, it’s Revy that decides to go scavenging for Nazi-related trinkets she could sell to Nazi memorabilia lovers. Rock, on the other hands, feels differently and tells Revy that even though the corpses belong to German Naval officers fighting on the side of the Reich it is wrong to desecrate this tomb. Unknown to them, a boat comes into view and to Dutch and Benny’s surprise they can see a group of neo-Nazi’s that have come for the painting as well. Sending a dive team below, Revy and Rock find themselves in a firefight as the group makes off with the painting.
Oh but Revy’s the type of girl that really lets loose but when she and Dutch board the neo-Nazi boat it is Dutch who is surprised by Revy’s excessive and ruthless killing spree. It’s clear that Revy is worked up about something and, to Dutch; it becomes clear that her behavior might have something to do with something Rock might have said to her. Revy even admits that Rock really doesn’t belong in their world.
When they manage to wrap up their business on the boat, Dutch sends Rock and Revy on a few routine errands that include hitting up a pair of nuns (or are they simply posing as nuns?) who also are Roanapur’s resident arms dealers. When things get ugly in there with a young “Sister” named Eda, it is Rock that calmly defuses the situation. In the middle of the marketplace, Rock and Revy get into a massive argument that says a lot about the type of person Revy is as well as how Rock feels about her. In the same chapter, when the odd pair is arrested, the two share a surprisingly intimate moment while lighting up a cigarette. We learn a few other things about Revy in this volume and she’s beginning to flesh out nicely, so to speak.
When a few Russian gangsters are killed in the most horrible way, Balalaika calls a meeting with the other rival gangsters that range form the Italians, the Chinese triad and even the Colombian drug cartel that has made Roanapur their home base of operations. The only clues behind the deaths are a pair of twins that just so happen to be children with a mean sadistic streak. No, wait, scratch that. They’re downright psychotic and creepy. Why they continue to go on a killing spree or what Balalaika will do to them knowing they are children is left up for the next chapter.
Volume 2 of Black Lagoon is still an action-packed, out of control and exciting manga that is actually way too much fun to want to put down. There’s a lot in this volume, including a little more insight about how Revy operates and what she thinks about Rock. The bullets fly in this volume as well so action fans aren’t left out but believe me when I say that the series still doesn’t continue to exchange action for solid storytelling. It offers an equal balance of both and this makes the series a rare gem indeed.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
During a mission that takes them deep inside the remains of an old WWII German U-boat, Rock says something that puts Revy on the edge until she explodes later in the chapter. There are neo-Nazis in this one and we are introduced to a pair of creepy twins that set off events that will turn Roanapur red with blood.
Rei Hiroe’s art is still easy on the eyes and the action flows just as beautifully as it does on the anime. It’s great work that makes this one impressive-looking manga.
Internal problems as well as a new threat puts the Lagoon Traders smack in the middle of an explosive situation. Ah, but Black Lagoon, Volume 2, continues to bring us more of that straight-up, bullet-fueled action that makes this manga a fun read for action junkies.