cover image Valentine’s Trust (Murder Inc. # 1)

Valentine’s Trust (Murder Inc. # 1)

Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Dark Horse, $19.99 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-5067-3027-1

In this lightning-paced but dramatically muddled alternate history from Eisner winners Bendis and Oeming (the Powers series), the scion of a New York Mafia family is framed for the murder of a senator just days after becoming a made man. A paper-thin stereotype, Valentine Gallo goes on the run with pistol-packing va-va-voom redhead Jagger Rose in an attempt to clear their names. This becomes increasingly unlikely as an array of rival mafiosi and federal agents come gunning for them. In this curious world, the United States government has ceded control of whole parts of the country to organized crime as part of a tentative truce that’s now coming undone. Betrayal, chest-puffing showdowns, and clenched-jaw dialogue abound. The backstory slots familiar JFK conspiracy plot blocks into a hard-to-swallow fantasy. Oeming’s throwback pop expressionist style, with canted angles, blocks of shadow, and splashy color, recalls Batman: The Animated Series. Though having as tenuous a connection to crime world reality as the John Wick movies, and about as high a body count, this new series will likely appeal to similar fans. Additional volumes are likely to be snapped up by fans of high-octane and low-logic action. (Jan.)