It's arguably the most entertaining manga about emos with chainsaws, obese pyromaniacs, and FARC-trained maids you'll read this month.
Writer/Artist: Rei Hiroe
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
After their trip to Japan, the crew unwinds back in Roanapur. The R&R doesn't last long--Jane, a counterfeiter on the run from Florida-based gangsters, seeks refuge with Sister P.W. Deegan's Church of Violence, kicking off a hot pursuit involving some of Roanapur's more colorful guns-for-hire. Later, half a world away in Venezuela, a bomb blast shatters what calm Garcia and Roberta have managed to restore to their lives. Garcia tries to sway Roberta from seeking payback, but the "Bloodhound of Florencia" will have her vengeance, and woe to anyone who gets in her way!
Even though I've really gotten a lot out of the long-form "Fujiyama Gangster Paradise" arc that's made up most of Black Lagoon's last two volumes, it's still a nice change of pace to see Hiroe start off the series's sixth installment with a more action-heavy piece. In sharp contrast to something like "Fujiyama", which surrounded relatively few action sequences with quite a bit of carefully-paced story development, the "Greenback Jane" arc brings out its first kill at four pages and then continues on with action sequences for the majority of its six parts.
The story, for what it's worth, involves a counterfeiter who hires Revy and Sister Eda to help her escape from a cartel that's disappointed in her work. The characterization throughout this arc is remarkably shallow compared to what we've seen in the last few volumes: sure, the cartel hires a lot of colorful assassins to take out the counterfeiter, but Shenhua -- herself a returning character from the earlier "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll" arc -- is the only one of the bunch that works as more than a one-note joke. (Granted, in the case of the chainsaw-wielding emo girl assassin, it's a one-note joke with a great payoff.) But that aside, it's an entertaining set of chapters that I think will please a lot of fans who preferred the gunplay-heavy chapters of the first couple of Black Lagoon volumes.
After "Greenback Jane", we get three chapters which make up the start of the "El Baile de la Muerte" storyline. As the arc's Spanish-language title and the book's cover artwork imply, these chapters bring the FARC-rebel-turned-maid Roberta back into the narrative, starting with the assassination of her master Diego Lovelace at a political rally. Roberta's spotted collecting weapons in Malaysia in the aftermath of the rally, but beyond that Hiroe's not revealing much more of what's going on quite yet. The Black Lagoon crew, no less, spend their time in the story telling different people that they don't have a clue about what Roberta's up to either.
This volume's throwbacks to earlier parts of the series -- both stylistically and by reintroducing some major secondary characters out of the blue -- were unexpected, but I'm not going to call them a bad thing. It's more that wasn't expecting Hiroe to already be retreading so much old ground this far into the series; but, hell, if he can keep the series this much fun while doing that, then more power to him.