This compelling volume is the first in a new series of three graphic novellas that build on the successful 1930s-era Road to Perdition graphic novel and film. Together, they chronicle a six-month period unexplored in the original story. Once again, the protagonist is Michael O'Sullivan, a hit man in John Looney's Irish mob. When O'Sullivan's son and namesake, Michael, witnesses his father's on-the-job activities, Looney's son responds by slaughtering O'Sullivan's family (save for O'Sullivan and his son). O'Sullivan swears revenge, and he and young Michael set off on a cross-country journey, robbing banks of their mob "blood money" and pitting them against the forces of the Looney mob and those of Al Capone. Their journey to Perdition, where young Michael's aunt and uncle live, is fraught with tragedy, violence and death. Veteran author Collins has returned to graphic novels to continue this tale, and he's clearly comfortable with this material and era. In this volume, readers learn how the O'Sullivans rob banks and how their time together allows them to grow closer. Their bank jobs are hindered when young Michael gets scarlet fever and O'Sullivan must avoid the mob hit men and find someplace for his son to recover. Will Michael's illness slow them down enough to allow their pursuers to stop them both permanently? Although Garcia-Lopez and Rubinstein's highly detailed b&w art isn't as meticulous as that of original series artist Richard Piers Rayner's, it still has a realistic cinematic style and winning characterizations.
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The hit movie The Road to Perdition was adapted from a 1998 graphic novel by Collins, author of the Nate Heller mysteries, who now reprises Road's characters in shorter comics-format stories (graphic novellas?). The new stories come from the period after the murder of hitman Michael O'Sullivan's wife and younger son, when the "Angel of Death" and his older boy, narrator of the film and these stories, take to the road, committing bank robberies to strike back at the Capone gang, who had stashed money in out-of-the-way small-town banks. Capone's right-hand man, Frank Nitti, hires bounty hunters to track down and eliminate the O'Sullivans, who are hiding out with a farm family while Michael Jr. recovers from scarlet fever. Artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, working here with Josef Rubinstein, is best known for larger-than-life superheroes but does credibly by this more down-to-earth material, though a touch of the movie's noirish mood and overblown grandeur might have enhanced it. Fans of the movie or its graphic-novel source should enjoy seeing more of the O'Sullivans. Gordon Flagg
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