The premise of this period crime drama derives from the Japanese manga hit Lone Wolf & Cub. The wandering Samurai of that series who travels with his young son here is depicted as Michael O'Sullivan, a Capone-era enforcer with a conscience. The Irish Catholic O'Sullivan is on the run from other gangs with his son Michael, who witnessed one of O'Sullivan's killings for the Irish Mafia's Looney gang. It's just the two of them, as O'Sullivan's wife and younger son have been killed. The story picks up after O'Sullivan has a falling-out with his mob boss. Father and son weave around the Midwest, waiting until it's safe to deposit Michael with relatives in Perdition, Kans. In the meantime, O'Sullivan sets about robbing the banks that are storing Al Capone's money and killing off local kingpins, giving Capone an incentive to reconsider his position of protecting Looney's bloodthirsty son, Conner. This book fleshes out the O'Sullivans' cross-country adventures (which were briefly shown in the film Road to Perdition), while exploring the nature of the father and son relationship. While Collins's adventure spinoff doesn't add significant plot to the story, the flashbacks, vignettes and gunfights give fans of period comics and gangster fiction more of what they crave: a rampage of shootouts and heists replete with Tommy guns and fedoras. Whereas the artwork is typical of classical American illustration, the format is more akin to that of successful manga paperbacks: fewer, smaller panels per page, rendered in stark b&w. Lieber's art delivers an effective pastiche of pulp illustrations of the period.
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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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