Two volumes back I noted that Black Lagoon is one volume setup and one volume payoff. Volume 7 is almost entirely setup with one bigdollop of gunbunny lunacy in the opening chapters to whet the appetite.But it’s good setup—it’s not just plot cogs creaking, but furtherdefinition of character. In a series like Black Lagoon the characterization and plotting are joined at the hip anyway.
The end of the last volumekicked off a new plot arc: the return of the Lovelace family’s cadre ofmurderous maids. Maids, plural. As it turns out, the nutjob Roberta isindeed back in town and looking for revenge. She’s convinced the folkswho killed the head of the Lovelace family with a well-placed bomb aresquirreled away in Roanapur somewhere, and she doesn’t care how manydead bodies she leaves behind before she finds them. The gun-totingmaid we met back at the end of the last volume, though, wasFabiola—another servant of the same ilk, and the one whom the “youngmaster” of the Lovelace clan is currently depending on most for hisprotection. Fabiola’s nowhere nearly as unhinged as Roberta out of thegate, but she’s enough of a handful that Rock (and by extension Revy)are persuaded to lend them a hand looking for Roberta to keep the bodycount to a minimum.
They quickly find that Fabiola’s the least of their worries. Sure,she instigates a high-caliber shootout that destroys most of Bao’s bar (again),but only because one of the many competing factions in town figuresit’s a good idea to take her out first. Wrong. The girl shoots back,for one—and two, anything that destabilizes the delicate balance ofpower in town (Hotel Moscow, the triads, the other gangs) is toodangerous to let run around unchecked. Triad leader Chang and HotelMoscow head Balalaika make all that clear when they organize ahigh-level summit with all the local crime bosses. They have all themore reason to let this matter be handled by as a few people aspossible (read: Rock / Revy) when they learn that certain major-leaguegovernment agencies with the initials C, I and A may be responsible.Whatever they do, it had better be put into action fast. Roberta’s notjust unhinged; she’s come clean off the doorframe, and a madwoman iscapable of anything. (Just ask Revy, her number-one self-appointednemesis, and arguably only marginally saner in her own way.)
Sowhat’s Rock’s answer to all of this? Throw himself into the middle ofit—and when he does, he ends up fighting his friends as much as hisenemies. A struggle with the latter’s a given, but his own friends seeRock do this and can’t think of him as anything but a deluded innocent.Deep down, Rock still believes that most people are fundamentally goodat heart—him included, which is why he’d rather step up to help a youngboy (even if that “boy” is the scion of a powerful family) than sit bywith his arms folded. He may be surrounded by, as Stuart Chase once putit, “the greatest idle and contented sitters-by you ever saw”, but thatdoesn’t mean he has to emulate their example. If anything, he’s hopingthey’ll emulate his.
There is far more to it than that, though.I think writer/artist Rei Hiroe knows this, and has been easing his waytowards it for some time—which is why he chooses to make his pointsabout these things through a look on a person’s face as much as he doesa line of dialogue. When Rock says to Revy “You’re the gun, and I’m thebullet”, there’s more being said than a potentially crass metaphor.Look at his face on page 161, which is as cold-eyed and determined aswe’ve ever seen him (and unlike many of the other characters, nothalf-hidden behind sunglasses and thus forcing us to guess what he’semoting). Now compare him to Revy, on the same page, looking for allthe world like she’s a lost soul. She talks tough, and others acttough. But more and more, Rock is the one who dreams tough.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind