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Saturday, March 23, 2013

I.R.$. Volume 3: Silicia, Inc. Stephen Desberg (Writer), Bernard Vrancken (Artist), Luke Spear (Translation), Imadjinn (Letters). Cinebook (Ltd. (2009)

An enjoyable and engaging crime story. Larry B. Max is an investigator for the IRS who finds a link in a public corruption  case he is pursuing with the death of a ex-president of an unnamed Asian country in France. The link starts with an ex-US Army officer and leads to a bank in Aruba, it also leads a very competent assassin to track Larry in parallel. The reveals are cleverly staged, the lines of the plot are drawn together well and the set up for the second half of the story well established.
Larry B. Max and the assassin are well matched, both excellent at their jobs and both very committed to doing them. The slightly unusual angle taken by Stephen Desberg to use the IRS as the agency and be following money trails pays off. It gives a nice sense of the pervasive nature of money laundering and gives Larry Max's action hero moments a nice, slightly unexpected twist. Larry is given a interesting personal life, which proves to be a useful route for an enemy to attack him. The assassin is mostly a cipher, simply ruthless and very competent, she is properly shadowy as she needs to be. 
One of the nice aspects to the story is the way the extra details are werapped around a very simple story and give it a greater depth and context. The US Senate hearings into ex-President Neruda Sumadayo's relations with the US and how that may have spilled out further into an Iran-Contra situation is nicely proposed.
Bernard Vracken's art is clean and forceful,  the panel lays out are varied and allow the different parts of the story to cross over each other without any confusion. The cast are given room to act and do so with vigor, the body language is expresive, the action is explosive or quiet exactly as required.
This is a low key story that works with quiet details that steadily move the story forward, packing more of a punch than it looks.

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