Gangsta, Vol. 1

Mlanie Watt
Kohske. Viz, $12.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-4215-6077-9
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In this crime manga, familiar elements show promise that isn’t realized. Worick is a one-eyed gigolo with a traumatic past. Nic is deaf, swings a samurai sword, and has some superpowers. He’s a “tag,” wearing a dog tag that serves the neighborhood as a symbol to beware. Together, they’re the “handymen,” killers for rent from corrupt cops and residents of a bad neighborhood, alike. There mystery here seems artificial, with many open questions presumably left for future volumes, including questions about what Nic’s powers are and why he has them. Early on, the duo rescues Alex, a prostitute who becomes their secretary and an agent for the reader’s curiosity about Worick and Nic. Although the lack of substantial content is frustrating, the art’s nicely attitude driven and the guys are attractive in their suits and well-done manga hair. Much of the narrative revolves around violence and abusive sex, but it’s all shown with flair and distinctive images from Kohske, a relatively new manga-ka who began drawing in 2010. Perhaps this is fresher for the native Japanese audience, but U.S. readers can see this kind of thing weekly on TV with more satisfying plot structure. (Feb.)
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