Black Lagoon, which ended with a bang. Killer maid Roberta had just arrived in Roanapur, giving everyone fits. Then another maid shows up and starts a firefight at the Lagoon Traders favorite bar. This volume concludes the battle in typical over-the-top fashion i.e. the bar is razed to the ground yet again. The Columbians show up, and it becomes a contest about who can wield the bigger gun. Guess who wins? But once the fight ends, the story gets bogged down with massive amounts of exposition. Part of it is to fill in necessary background information, and the other part is to outline how everyone else is struggling to figure out what to do next.
This is Rei Hiroe's most ambitious story arc to date. And this volume is pretty much about assembling the pieces involved. Every crime organization starts to debate amongst themselves and with each other on how to proceed. Garcia Lovelace and his servant Fabiola (the second kick-butt maid) have come to town to retrieve Roberta, who has gone rogue. And we learn that Roberta intends to start a bloodbath that will involve the American Special Forces. That has everyone worried. Will Roanapur still be a haven for thieves once they get involved? Will there even be a city left standing after this is all over? And guess who among the Black Lagoon crew has to stick his neck out to help Garcia?
Since the majority of the players seem to be constantly engaged in a pissing contest, the clipped tough-guy talk can get pretty monotonous, as well as sometimes hard to follow. Some of this dialogue can go on for a bit too long, so it's actually a relief when the scene breaks to show a flashback of Roberta torturing her way through the story before arriving at Roanapur. Her quest is slowly driving her towards insanity. But the emotional centerpiece as always is between Rock and Revy. While the two are still at odds over the former's altruistic behavior, there'a been a gradual shift in their partnership. Revy's body language suggests that she's a bit more tentative, while Rock has adopted a slightly tougher exterior. The climax is when he describes himself as a bullet, while Revy is the gun needed to realize his deadly potential. This crass metaphor feels rather odd coming out of Rock's mouth.
In the end this is a lot of slow buildup with no accompanying relief. So I look forward to some more mayhem and violence in the next volume. In other words, I want Fabiola, Revy and Roberta to blow stuff up.