UNITED STAES VS MURDER INC. #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Mass murder and a tragic backstory befall UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 thanks to writer Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis writes from a rebellious young woman's perspective well with a bloody outcome. Michael Avon Oeming's art is the best it's been. His illustrations successfully tell the story in conjunction with Bendis's writing. Overall, UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 ends on a strong note.
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Unexpected Ending

Brian Michael Bendis writes the most brutal and tragic backstory of Valentine’s family in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6. In addition, Bendis shows an extreme consequence for being a rebellious young woman looking for the “bad boy” of her dreams while Michael Avon Oeming’s art portrays a “drunk in love” stage of life, youth, and wonder at seeing a new place. Overall, the UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 ends the first story arc on a high note.

Journey to the Past

UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 continues with the government afraid of the Family (not just the Bonavese, but the combined Families) and with the United States in anarchy. Besides that, our story focuses mainly on more character development regarding Valentine. As a result, we learn about Valentine’s biological family through his mother, Madonna, as she lays in the hospital. For instance, the reason Madonna bred Valentine as a double agent for the Bonavese Family and the FBI was due to his late father.

Eyes for a New Life in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6

Madonna’s written as someone Valentine deeply cares for in previous issues. With that information known, you’d think Madonna’s a sweet old lady side character — but she’s not. With that said, Bendis and Oeming both work well together in illustrating Madonna’s youth. I love seeing her perspective on New York in this almost sky blue color with all the signs of New York visible, but not drawn crystal clear. The scene’s drawn that way due to Madonna’s focus in this particular moment. That focus is on Valentine’s father. His aesthetic (tall, dark, and handsome) fits perfectly with the “bad boy” image Madonna wanted. The work in these panels is successful in depicting the feeling of love at first sight. Plus, the combination of Bendis’ writing and Oeming’s art relates to a female reader that’s ventured off into a rebellious phase looking for a “bad boy.”

UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

What was interesting about how Oeming illustrates Madonna in this panel and beyond is that her face looks sort of like a MY SCENE doll. I think Oeming’s depiction of Madonna as a young woman symbolizes her falling in love with Valentine’s father. Oeming illustrates her face differently from Valentine’s father and her friend in that moment. But then why would Valentine’s father not have a different illustration to show he fell in love, too? Maybe he never really fell for Madonna at all despite being married to her until the end of his life.

How Bad Intentions Come Back to Bite You

While Madonna’s “drunk in love,” she doesn’t seem to realize what kind of relationship she’s in. Through UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6, Oeming illustrates Valentine’s father as this maniac character while Madonna marvels at him. From a storytelling standpoint, Bendis illustrates a soft core version of Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship. The Joker and Valentine’s father are maniacs that appeal to female characters without having to lift a finger. Both of them bring misery to the female characters in the end. The only difference being that Harley Quinn suffers constant abuse while Madonna seems to enjoy everyday life with her partner. Very strange to see.

Madonna’s “drunk in love” phase tragically ends when her dad and some of his big burly friends show up. Her dad and her now-husband (Valentine’s father) get in a fight to the death. Why they did, I’m not entirely sure. The fighting scenes were (another fight features Valentine’s great-grandfather) random and left without explanation. Which leaves this reader disappointed.

UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Now, the outcome after Madonna tells the story is unexpected. I thought Bendis would write this to where Valentine would want revenge on the Bonavese Family. However, Valentine blames Madonna for the death of his biological family. Valentine’s feelings towards Madonna are successful in twisting the typical response of being loyal to biological family. His decision to keep his allegiance and “trust” with the Family helps to progress the plot. In addition, with Valentine now the clear protagonist, we know he’s more of a major character than he was made out to be in the first couple of issues.

But What About Jagger Rose?

Though it’s nice to know who our main character is, one big problem is the absence of Jagger Rose. Think back to the first two UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. issues. They both focused heavily on Jagger. Granted, she is on the run but she was made out to be the main character, and now it’s Valentine? It may confuse or disappoint the reader, not seeing Jagger in the end of the first arc; therefore, the change is not very successful. The reader became invested in Jagger, but then they suddenly lose touch with her and are left with Valentine. Not that he and his past aren’t interesting; it’s the idea of change that may drive readers away.


Bendis writes to where the reader should have no trouble understanding the plot or staying engaged, despite Jagger Rose’s long absence. In addition, the first story arc ends in the most unexpected, dark, yet enjoyable way possible to progress the plot on to UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC. VS THE VATICAN. Oeming’s panels clearly tell a story and connect with the reader. Hopefully we get more of this level of teamwork from Bendis and Oeming in the next story arc.

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