January 7, 2011

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Jormungand Vol 3

Written by Keitaro Takahashi
Illustrated by Keitaro Takahashi
Viz

Finally, Jonah's origin story is revealed, as we learn how a boy who hates weapons dealers came to be working for one of the most notorious ones on the planet. Plus, pirate adventure on the high seas! Intrigue in South Africa! And...has Valmet found a way to exact her revenge at last? Find out in the third volume of...Jormungand.

I have to admit, this third entry in the series did not wow me as much as the first two. The tone was significantly darker, and it was harder to like Koko and her crew when they are mercilessly killing their opponents without any addition of guile or style. Blowing people away doesn't take any talent, and eventually, it doesn't take any of my attention, either. I liked the intricate plotting and scheming that we saw in the first two volumes much better. Hopefully, we'll return to that next issue, as we're left here with Koko clearly plotting something with an disreputable businessman who needs to be cut down to size.

I did find the origin of Jonah interesting, as it explains his uncanny ability with weapons despite not liking them at all. (I'm reminded of a Chuck Dixon Batman comic where Bats uses a rifle to fire an Olympic-quality shot--to wound, of course--and explains that while he hates guns, he must know how to shoot them.) It seems that Jonah is not quite as innocent as we might have been led to believe, which explains how he can justify his new life. I wonder if the bargain we see in this flashback actually happened, or if Jonah is being set up for later betrayals. I hate to wish for terrible things, but a betrayal would certainly make this whole sequence a lot more interesting down the road. I'll just have to keep reading to find out.

There are some cool action moments in this one, such as when our overconfident CIA agent loses a vital suspect or when Valmet springs into the attack, but overall, the sense of difference from any other action story wanes here quite a bit. Koko and her team show they're not to be messed with, but it's a joyless action. The volume feels more like a placeholder in a longer set of arcs, which is fine, but Takahashi needs to do a better job of keeping the reader interested in the short term dealings as well as what might happen a few chapters from now. This would have been maddening to read sequentially, given that I was mentally shouting "let's get moving!" as I read this trade.

To have to wait patiently for the next installment might have actually caused me to give up on Jormungand. As it stands, I'm not quite as enthused with the series as I was after the first two volumes, but I'll stick with it to see where Takahashi is going. Hopefully, there will be a better payoff in volume four. I'd still recommend this one for fans of action movies, but the recommendation is bit tempered for now.