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Gangsta Volume Four – Review

Gangsta-Volume-Four-Cover-Image-01Sex sells! It’s a simple truth of this world. In fact, there’s an entire industry that proves it and it’s featured in, surprisingly enough, almost all facets of pop culture. Specifically; crime stories. Every good gangster-type story has three main staples: Guns, suits and beautiful women. Unfortunately, most of the men who write these types of stories forget that the ladies are just as important as characters than the men. This is why, most of the time, the story will focus only on the male characters and not so much the women. “Gangsta”, though, is very much different.

The Manga takes what we’ve been taught about the life of a Mobster and flips it on its head: For once, the men and women are on an even keel. This means both genders can own their own brothel BUT both can be gunned down violently by an enemy familyIt seems as though volume four, above the three that came before it, makes the audience well aware of the fact that women in the world of “Gangsta” play just as big a role as the men with a majority of the book being based around former prostitute and current secretary to the “Handymen” Alex Benedetto who has one of the more rich backstories and a playful yet fragile personality that seems all too real for a piece of fiction.

Thanks to Madman Entertainment I’ve been given the chance to, once again, review another volume of the popular “Gangsta” Manga which, so far, has only gotten better and better as I read.

As Hunters infiltrate the city of Ergastulum, more and more Twilights fall victim to the violence and chaos that result. The Cristiano Family, traditionally (and secretly) charged with overseeing the Twilight population, is keeping a close eye on events – and they don’t like what they see. The young Cristiano boss hires the Handymen to escort Twilights to a safe house for protection, but a new, even more dangerous threat is on their doorstep. – Madman Entertainment

Volume four, while showing just as much violence and death as the previous three volumes, does a very good job at setting up certain critical events to come while also introducing the audience to a handful of new characters and giving us a nicer look at the depth of Alex Benedetto’s character. I find it clever how Kohske, the writer and illustrator behind “Gangsta”, can tell her audience so much about a character without the use of dialogue. While Alex does speak a fair bit throughout the volume, it’s nowhere near as much as the rest of the character cast and, even then, what she says doesn’t exactly tell us about her…it’s what she does throughout that gives us a very detailed view of not only her mental state but the way in which her mind works in general. We’re also introduced to another strong lady who, funnily enough, is still more of a girl: Loretta Christiano Amodio, the young head of the Christiano family who, in a single volume, proves to be quite the force of nature as well as a beacon of hope for the Twilight community. It’s these two alongside a pair of new Tags and a berserk Nicholas Brown that make up the bulk of the volume which, as mentioned, ends with quite a huge cliffhanger and does a fantastic job at subtly setting the world up for the coming events that I assume will be featured in volume five. As always; each of the characters are written wonderfully with most, if not all, getting enough time in the spotlight to show off both their good and their bad qualities. They all are shown interacting with each other in, oddly enough, such a Martin Scorsese-type way which basically translates to; no piece of dialogue is wasted. Everything said within “Gangsta” needed to be for one reason or another. No panel was wasted by useless dialogue and everything said only ever worked in favour of the character saying it. Never against. That’s a pretty obvious sign of great writing.

Something that has stayed perfectly constant through the Manga is that of Kohske’s mastery of sequential art. She has a clear grasp on illustration as a whole and uses it in ways that never cease to amaze me. She’s able to tell so much more of a story with one look and that in itself is such a feat of excellence. She can make even still scenes seem impressive and exciting but it is when you’re confronted by pages occupied by action panels that you get a chance to truly appreciate her talent. The way characters bend and move, the way their clothes and hair flow, the details in between their fingers…it’s awe-inspiring, to say the very least. There’s nothing more I can say about Kohske’s art that I havn’t already said three times over: It’s simply perfect and it puts a lot of other graphic novelists to shame.

At this point in time, four volumes in, it seems as though “Gangsta” has reached a quality level where it can, essentially, do no wrong. It has very much proven itself in terms of both storytelling and artistic excellence, and I really can’t imagine that deteriorating anytime soon. It has yet to do something superlatively outlandish or story-breaking and, if my foresight is anything to judge by, I cannot see it doing so in the upcoming story arc. The story has now begun to crescendo thanks to the events of volume four and to imagine it falling off of the tracks now is something I cannot bring myself to do. “Gangsta” is for the Manga reader who is looking for something with a bit more grit to it than your standard Seinen title. It’s also very much inspired by Western gangster cinema so anyone interested in that will definitely find some enjoyment in “Gangsta”. In the end; I’m very much in love with this series and it is entirely earned. Fantastic writing, fantastic art, utter perfection.

Head to Madman Entertainment’s official online store to grab yourself a copy of ‘Gangsta’ Volume Four: Click Here

Grade: A+

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