Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rei Hiroe
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Now Available
How do you stop a rampaging killer maid?
Rei Hiroe wasn’t kidding when he said that the Roberta’s Revenge story arc was going to be a long one and for the past two volumes it has been a wild and interesting ride. Of course, much of this has to do with the fact that the killer maid – who was a former member of the FARC and on meds – is one of the more interesting and awesome characters to appear in Black Lagoon. Volume 9 is also a meaty volume that concludes the story arc just as it starts to run out of steam.
In the last volume, Garcia Lovelace finally caught up with Roberta who has dealt violently with the Colombians only to find himself going into a momentary state of shock at the sight of the caring maid seducing and then brutally killing a man. Worst yet, thanks to Roberta’s demented state, she nearly shot her young master thinking he was just a figment of her delusions.
Rescued by the American Special Forces led by Major Shane Caxton, Garcia comes to from the shock he received but also realizes the he is in the company of the man responsible for all of this in the first place. He tells the Major that it was he who caused Roberta to go on her bloody rampage and it was he who killed his father. As it turns out, Caxton is a man of honor that goes back to the Vietnam War and understands Garcia’s hatred. He hands the boy his service pistol and tell him that he deserves his revenge.
However, killing the Major – no matter how tempting – wouldn’t bring Roberta back to him or stop her from continuing her hunt. Meanwhile, Balalaika’s forces are keeping Roberta from reaching the Americans by concentrating their fire away from them. She even makes a move against Revy and her mercenaries for hire that include Shenhua, Sawyer and Lotton. In fact, Balalaika does something that not only pisses off Revy but things will definitely not be the same between these two women.
Interestingly enough, Balalaika’s interest in the Americans is very personal and it seems like the Russian members of her organization aren’t the only ones with a hidden agenda when it comes to the Roberta situation. Mister Chang, as we saw in the last volume, is making his own move thanks to Rock’s information and things are being pushed in the direction that Rock has suggested from the very start.
While Garcia manages to pull away from the Major’s men, he comes to a decision as to what to do with Roberta. Having seen her mental state and what she is capable of doing, Garcia could have simply walked away seeing as saving her now looks like a lost cause. However, Garcia Lovelace isn’t that type of person and he asks his other loyal maid, Fabiola, if she could help him save Roberta. There’s something very endearing about these two youngsters vowing to save somebody that means so much to them.
In the final chapter of this lengthy 266 page volume, the Black Lagoon Traders decides to help the American special ops tem rendezvous with their other squad mates. With Gracia and Fabiola onboard the Black Lagoon, the two kids and Caxton come to an agreement and Garcia ends up asking for the Major’s pistol to complete his plan to finally confront Roberta once and for all. Oh, there will most definitely be blood as Roberta does show up and takes on the Americans before she encounters her young master again.
The last moments of this chapter is really unforgettable and makes up for the heavy buildup in the first few chapters that play up some extensive yet necessary background on Caxton and there are lengthy conversations. While the volume is heavy on huge and occasionally confusing action sequences, all of this is slowed down thanks to the shady backstreet deals of Roanapur’s criminal element.
Still, slow pacing aside, there are some monumental moments that will – no doubt about it – will change this series and how certain characters will treat each another in future volumes. As I mentioned, something goes down between Revy and Balalaika but there are some other shocking moments … another of which involves Eda of the Church of Violence. Dutch’s past is come into question by Major Caxton and everyone can now plainly see that Rock is no longer the innocent bystander but now a manipulative scumbag. Even when he tells people he’s doing things with everyone’s best interest in mind, nobody believes him.
Volume 9 of Black Lagoon takes its time to complete this long story arc and ends it well despite the slow pacing and this has much to do with the fact that Roberta is just a classic bad ass character whose presence in the volume makes the story even cooler. Oh, things will change after this volume and we can’t wait to see what the aftermath of this story arc will mean to the rest of the cast.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
With Roberta continuing her hunt for the American unit involved in the assassination of her employer, Garcia Lovelace discovers the identity of the man who executed the operation that resulted in his maid going berserk. Meanwhile, Roanapur’s criminal underworld takes advantage of the situation as Rock and the Black Lagoon crew steer Lovelace, the American unit and the killer maid into a final confrontation.
Rei Hiroe’s art is still amazing and you just have to love how cool his characters look but some of his action sequences can be a tad on the confusing side … especially in this volume.
A lengthy story arc comes to an end in a long but compelling final chapters where a boy fights the odds to save a person dear to him. Volume 9 of Black Lagoon also plays a role in changing things between the Black Lagoon Traders and the criminal elements in Roanapur. Things are going to be different after this volume and we are looking forward to what comes after this story.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media