Monday, November 14, 2011

Return to Perdition by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty (graphic novel, Road to Perdition sequel)

With Return to Perdition, author Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty conclude the saga begun by Collins and Richard Piers Rayner with Road to Perdition. It not only brings the story back to the graphic novel (sequels Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise were prose-only novels) but also reunites Collins with Beatty in their first comic collaboration in 15 years. (Though Beatty did the cover to the Ms. Tree novel Deadly Beloved and illustrated the Jack and Maggie Starr novels, including Strip for Murder.)

While previous Perdition graphic-novel "sequels" (collected in Road to Perdition 2: On the Road) essentially expanded on the original storyline involving Michael O'Sullivan and his son, Return to Perdition picks up where Road to Paradise left off, including the illustration of a climactic scene from that book. (If you feel a little lost by not having read those books, do so; they're some of Collins's best and most personal work.)

Return to Perdition follows Michael Satariano, Jr. — spoken of but, if memory serves, never "seen" in Road to Paradise — as he is rescued from a POW camp in Laos and recruited by the Justice Department as an assassin targeted on organized crime. He trains at the FBI academy at Quantico but even more rigorously than the special agents, with a fringe benefit of his assignment being his chance to avenge his family's murder.

It's great to see Collins and Beatty together again in this form. Their classic Ms. Tree comic is terrific and influential, and their skills at their respective arts have only deepened over time. Return to Perdition is a fantastic way to end a series that I've been reading and rereading for years.

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