THE COURIERS 3: THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY FUNWRECKER is the latest from AiT/PlanetLar and Brian Wood, and it's pretty much on a par with the first three in the series. This time out, we get a look at those deadly and efficient (not to mention street-smart and potty-mouthed) mercenary couriers, Moustafa and Special, in the dim and distant days of 1993, when they got their gangbanging start with the organization of Chinese crime boss Johnny Funwrecker. Isn't it neat how you can stick "Johnny" in front of almost anything and it sounds cool? Ha. Anyway, we get a look at how M and S first met, are introduced to Moustafa's not-so-nice Mom, and the beginnings of how they established their urban merc delivery service...kinda like Kevin Bacon in Quicksilver, except if he carried an AK-47. There's even a funny scene in which they watch that very film. We also get a quick glimpse of Moustafa's girlfriend Olive, star of Couscous Express, as a little kid. Eventually, the duo decide they've had enough being in Johnny's employ when the Feds threaten to bust the operation, and decide to take over- which, as you may imagine, doesn't go over very well at all with Mr. Funwrecker. Much fast-paced mayhem ensues, and the resolution won't come as much of a surprise, especially since this takes place, after all, twelve years ago. Even as teenagers, Moustafa and Special (and Johnny F) have charisma to burn, and Brian Wood writes them with snappy dialogue. Rob G. is once again back on art duties, and while I still find his style crude and sketchy in places, especially on the figure drawings, this issue shows a lot of improvement from his previous Couriers outings, and he's even learned to lay off the Photoshop "blur" filter a bit.
Also as with the previous books in the series, I like the characters and the concept a lot more than the execution, no pun intended. These Couriers stories work best if you turn off your brain and don't think about them very hard. This being said, if you're looking for fast-paced action-movie thrills, and don't particularly want to worry about such trivialities as cause-and-effect and realism, Ballad will certainly satisfy.