Black Lagoon Vol 1

Black Lagoon Vol. 1 by Ren Hiroe.
This volume delivers on its promise to deliver nonstop explosive action. There's plenty of John Woo style gunfights, high speed chases, and massive explosions to distract the reader from the paper thin plot and shallow characterization. It's like any Hollywood blockbuster, but bereft of sound and motion. And it's a lot cheaper to produce than film.

Japanese salaryman Rokuro Okajima gets kidnapped by a group of mercenaries piloting a modified PT boat called the Black Lagoon while transporting a disc containing sensitive information for his employers across the South Pacific. But he joins his kidnappers after learning that his company has left him for dead in order to retrieve the disc. He proves invaluable in getting the Lagoon crew out of a very tight spot, and receives the affectionate moniker "Rock."

The rest of the Black Lagoon crew is composed of the burly African American captain Dutch, the boat's mechanic and former university student from Florida named Benny, and the book's cover girl Revy - A sadistic Chinese American killer who functions as the crew's muscle as well as the reader's primary eye candy by sporting a form fitting tank top and cutoff jean shorts in all the fight scenes. As the team's resident hothead and most vocal cynic, she serves as a foil to Rock's basically decent behavior and level headed approach to any situation. Many non-action scenes involve Rock and Revy sparring verbally over ethical conundrums that arise during the Lagoon Company missions.

With the series having been set up, most of the rest of the volume concentrates on the Lagoon crew transporting the scion of a wealthy South American family while being pursued by Roberta - a seemingly unstoppable ex- guerilla dressed as a bespectacled maid while carrying an umbrella machine gun and a suitcase full of weapons. It's a wacky concept that liberally borrows from El Mariachi and The Terminator, mixed with . It shouldn't come as any surprise who she gratuitously dukes it out with at the end of the book.

Despite the potential for outrageous action found in these ideas, The action scenes are not particularly well executed. Ren Hiroe draws dynamic enough figures, but he obscures them with way too many awkwardly framed shots and flashy speed lines. The scenes are cut to make it difficult to follow the panel to panel continuity or to locate the characters relative location to one other. The backgrounds, when he bothers to draw them, tend to be pretty generic, which is unfortunate since the exotic setting should be part of the appeal of this series. After all the Lagoon crew gets to zip around South East Asia and interact with an ethnically diverse local population. It would be nice if Hiroe showed a little more interest in capturing the local milieu.