cover image ON THE ROAD TO PERDITION: Sanctuary


Max Allan Collins, . . DC Comics/Paradox Press, $7.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0173-9

The premise of this period crime drama derives from the Japanese manga hit Lone Wolf & Cub . The wandering Samurai of that series who travels with his young son here is depicted as Michael O'Sullivan, a Capone-era enforcer with a conscience. The Irish Catholic O'Sullivan is on the run from other gangs with his son Michael, who witnessed one of O'Sullivan's killings for the Irish Mafia's Looney gang. It's just the two of them, as O'Sullivan's wife and younger son have been killed. The story picks up after O'Sullivan has a falling-out with his mob boss. Father and son weave around the Midwest, waiting until it's safe to deposit Michael with relatives in Perdition, Kans. In the meantime, O'Sullivan sets about robbing the banks that are storing Al Capone's money and killing off local kingpins, giving Capone an incentive to reconsider his position of protecting Looney's bloodthirsty son, Conner. This book fleshes out the O'Sullivans' cross-country adventures (which were briefly shown in the film Road to Perdition ), while exploring the nature of the father and son relationship. While Collins's adventure spinoff doesn't add significant plot to the story, the flashbacks, vignettes and gunfights give fans of period comics and gangster fiction more of what they crave: a rampage of shootouts and heists replete with Tommy guns and fedoras. Whereas the artwork is typical of classical American illustration, the format is more akin to that of successful manga paperbacks: fewer, smaller panels per page, rendered in stark b&w. Lieber's art delivers an effective pastiche of pulp illustrations of the period. (Dec. 2003)