M3 Vol 2 takes up the story of the triple M assassin, Machiavella Maria Marcona. Now a reformed ex-assassin, Vella is trying to adjust to being one of the “good guys.” She is especially wary when FBI Special Agent Chris Morris asks her to break into a house illegally, but, he carefully specifies, not to kill anyone. Shortly after that, while she is still questioning her actions and his loyalties, unexpected secrets from her past show up—and Agent Morris insists on helping her deal with them.
The story of M3 vol. 2 is one of suspense and one of family. Questions are raised about what makes a family, what families owe one another, what should be kept, and what should be left behind. None of these have easy answers, and the answers are not the same for each character. Erica Schultz uses some very familiar tropes in M3 vol. 2. There is the unexpected family secret, the Italian mafia, and the penitent ex-assassin. She handles them deftly, however, creating a new story about family, loss, and renewal that keeps the pages turning. Characters are introduced and their personalities developed, and I wanted to know what happens next? There are also some unexpected moments of humor. Among these are Agent Morris’s worried repetitions of “Don’t kill!” and the hardened assassin’s response to a house dog.
Vicente Alcázar’s art is polished and slick, each page is a magazine spread. Eyes and mouths are very expressive. In many of the pictures, the rest of the face is smooth, not moving to reflect the person’s emotions, which gives some images an almost plastic look. Backgrounds are just detailed enough to show, not so much that they detract from the characters and action.
Although this is the second volume in a series, Schultz provides enough background that a new reader can follow the story easily. As a bonus, the content emerges naturally in conversation or memory where it is relevant to matters at hand. There are no infodumps or cabbage-head questions here.
M3 Vol. 2 is recommended for people who like spy and espionage stories, particularly those of the spy who came in from the cold variety.
M3 Vol. 2 is out this month.
M3 Vol. 1 is available for back order.
Writer: Erica Schultz
Artist: Vicente Alcázar