UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Brian Michael Bendis takes a break from all the high action and takes the reader with Valentine to Pennsylvania to meet with government special agents. We find out Valentine's a mole and who the next president is, however, UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 leaves this reader dissatisfied. Michael Oeming continues to use heavy shadow and symbolism in his art. Overall, UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 was a good breather and a unique issue in the UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. series.
87 %
Enjoying Valentine

UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 takes an unexpected turn after the 50th President, Erica Sanchez, died due to a snipe to the head. Brian Michael Bendis takes a break from intense action and dives more into a dark and quieter scene. Michael Avon Oeming remains consistent with his highly shadowed art. Oeming does gift us with a little symbolism when we look into Valentine’s recent trauma. Overall, this issue is the most unique so far in the UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. series.

Let’s Recap and See What Valentine’s Up To

In UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #4, the 50th president of the United States dies (as mentioned above) while Valentine and Jagger separate in Japan. Now in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5, we land in a Pennsylvania bowling alley during the harsh winter. Valentine meets up with two special agents from the U.S. government. This event leads to us finding out that Valentine spies for the government and previously gave intel about the mob. They discuss the future of the presidency. Gary Gordon is next in line and he’s worse than Sanchez according to the agents. Despite Gordon being a religious nutcase that wants to blow up New York due to all the sinners, the agents still stand by the government. A fight between them and Valentine breaks out, leaving the agents dead and Valentine reporting to the mob.

All About Valentine in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5

It’s great Brian Michael Bendis decided to do an issue that focuses on Valentine. So far we’ve only seen solo Jagger Rose or her and Valentine teamed up. Bendis showing that Valentine is (was?) a mole for the government gives readers a new view on Valentine and leaves them questioning why he would ever secretly betray the mob he was born into. This isn’t revealed yet. For all we know, the Bonavese family could have ordered Valentine to be a mole so he could get intel as well. We’ll just have to see.

UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5
UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 pages 2-3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Even though it’s nice to see Valentine on his own, this issue doesn’t feel all that engaging. Granted, we now know Valentine works for the government and who the new president is. But, if you look at UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 as a whole, all it really is one scene that contains one argument that doesn’t have depth to it, nor does this encounter have a significant impact on the overall plot. Knowing more about the new president is beneficial; however, with the understanding of how powerful the five mob families are, they could find the same information easily.

Consistent Art With Small Symbolism

Michael Avon Oeming continues his heavily shadowed work in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5. Oeming’s use of color draws this reader’s attention to what each one might mean. We see our characters in medium pink and green hues — not too light, not too dark. It seems green is the main color until we get to when Valentine shoots the government agents — this scene is pink. Once the agents die, Omeing returns to the green. It’s hard to determine what the green color might symbolize because Valentine does lose his temper with the male agents and kind of fights him. Maybe green doesn’t have a significant meaning. Pink, on the other hand, seems to symbolize the peak of rage in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5.

One more teeny, tiny detail that may go unappreciated is when Valentine thinks about when his mother was fatally injured in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #3. As the reader views that snippet, Oeming places a red block over that moment while creating a translucent effect. Those couple of squares are the most significant points of symbolism. They signify blood, tragedy, rage, and trauma in Valentine’s life. That small detail made the flashback speak louder than possibly intended. It’s enjoyed nonetheless.

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

The End of a Story Arc in UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #6?

At the end of UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. #5 we see “to be concluded.” This may mean the end of the first story arc of UNITED STATES VS MURDER INC. What might happen? Will we see Valentine and Jagger reunite? Do we have a lot of action coming in the next issue, or more plot-building to do? Honestly, there’s no telling what might happen, but stay tuned for all the action coming soon!

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