Volume 6 contains the complete "Greenback Jane" arc. Revy and Rock are back in Roanapur. Revy's cracked-out girl-talk reunion session with Eda at the Ripoff Church (featuring cards, booze, and guns) is interrupted by a frantic fugitive from violence: Jane Bai, master counterfeiter, who turns out to be the hottest piece of contraband in play in Roanapur at the moment. The rest of the story is a crazy caper that seesaws between frantic Loony Toons chase comedy and a building-destroying level of violence. There's a little romance (for one of the most unlikely characters), the return of Shenhua (as part of a quirky miniboss squad that puts Black Lagoon squarely over the line into fantasyland for the first time), and some very nice scenes for Eda, ranging from the wacky to the rather sinister.
Volume 6 also starts a new, longer arc, "El Baile de le Muerte" ("The Dance of Death"), which continues in Volume 7 and beyond. Given the name of the arc, no one should be surprised to see the return of Roberta the Maid (a/k/a the "Hound of Florencia") to Roanapur - but she's not the only interesting visitor to come back to the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy. Her young master, Garcia Lovelace, shows up, trailing the hyperkinetic and well-armed teenaged domestic Fabiola Iglesias, who learned virtually everything she knows from Head Matron Roberta and has a similarly bad effect on bars and other criminal hideouts. Everyone's assuming that Roberta is out to revenge Garcia's father - but he was killed back in South America, so why is she in Thailand?( Read more ... with spoilers! )
Revy and Rock's Japan experience continues as they ally with Ginji, the sword-wielding yakuza enforcer, to rescue Yukio, the young leader-apparent of the Washimine-gumi, from the hands of the thugs associated with a rival family. Later, Rock's feelings about Yukio's situation lead him to a terrifying confrontation with Balalaika. The arc ends - as one might expect from a yakuza story - in tragedy, but not until there have been a couple of really incredible fight scenes, and some surprising ... well, given who's involved, I can't call it tenderness. But it got me where I live.( Read more ... with *serious* spoilers! )
The Black Lagoon is a World War IIera PT boat small, sturdy, fast, and maneuverable. Her crew, mercenaries and couriers of illegal goods, are stoic, tough African-American Vietnam vet Dutch; quirky blond Jewish-American tech/mechanic Benny; and psycho curvaceous Chinese-American gunwoman Revy (short for Rebecca), also known a Two-Hand for her ability to use a gun in either hand or both. During the first volume, their number increases by one when they obtain Japanese salaryman Rokuro - now known as Rock.
Rock is the reader's POV as the story follows the adventures of the Black Lagoon crew all around the teeming criminal underworld of Southeast Asia, with the fictional port city of Roanapur, Thailand, as their base. Kidnapping, arms smuggling, recovery of treasure from wrecks, murder, terrorism, exotic and disgusting porn, mayhem of all sorts, drugs it's all part of Rock's world now. And although he's still often repulsed by what he's helping to accomplished, he proves surprisingly adept at coming up with outlandish but effective schemes to wreak havoc on the Lagoon squad's enemies.
Volume 4 takes a different turn as Rock and Revy accompany the elegant, way-beyond-ruthless Russian mob boss Balalaika on her mission to the yakuza in Japan. I miss Dutch and Benny and hope that the group will eventually be reunited.
In many ways, this should be only a guilty pleasure. It's violent as all get-out (rather like Blade of the Immortal with modern weapons), and scantily-clad buxom women are all over the place. One reviewer noted that most of the female characters are stereotypes in one way or another. But somehow the vibe is, in its way, bizarrely liberating. The women aren't any more exaggerated than the men, IMO, and they're often the more interesting characters.( Read more ... with spoilers! )
Warning: the "Hansel and Gretel" plotline in vols. 2-3 involves child pornography. The subject is definitely not glorified, but it's very disturbing. It's also easily arguable that the Muslim terrorist Ibraha (vols. 3-4) is an unfortunate stereotype, although I don't know that he's any worse than anyone else in the story. You have been warned.