Monday, February 28, 2005

Review: 100 Bullets

Written by Brian Azzarello, who recently got mainstream attention doing BATMAN: BROKEN CITY, and drawn by Eduardo Risso, 100 BULLETS has become something of a modern classic.

I just finished reading 100 BULLETS #51-58...
Definitely a bunch of "Oh, shit!" moments. I was starting to sound like Wylie while I was reading that arc.

Gabe was another one of those trademark Azzarello one-time characters. And a great one, too. He was a nice addition to the mix to keep things fresh.
My head's still turning from the whole Graves/Shepherd working with/against each other thing.
Of course... that doesn't quite matter anymore, now does it..?

Azzarello got me with his trick. He does a long arc involving Wylie, Dizzy and Shepherd, with them going through one big rollercoaster ride. Then ends it on a bittersweet note where they all get together and start to patch things up. And then... the next issue... not even a part to the story... more like an epilogue...
Everything falls apart.

It didn't help that I'd already heard that someone died in #58. Of course, I was smart and avoided finding out who until I read it.
What surprised me was that at the end of #57... when everyone was riding off into the sunset, I figured it must not have been one of those three.
#58 must've been about another part of the cast... perhaps Victor or Benito...
But no.
Turned out there was a few loose threads that needed to be tied up.

I hadn't realized that Dizzy hadn't been given the trigger word before. Of course if she had, then she would most likely have used it on Wylie in Texas. But now we know she's more connected than we (or she) thought.
They also imply that Loop is a sleeper, too. I wonder if that'll be the key to Lono and Loop getting out of prison...

SPOILER!!!Don't read this paragraph if you haven't read the book or if it you don't like spoilers...
Great storytelling on Azzarello's part. I figured as important as Shepherd was, he would have died a more glamorous death. What's ironic is that he spent the last seven issues pretty much tied up and on the verge of being killed by Wylie only to be gunned down on a whim by a traumatic Dizzy.
That's harsh.

The creative team is the best I've seen in some time. Azzarello is very much at home when it comes to urban crime and tough characters. They quickly grow on you and each of them have their own individual traits.
And Eduardo Risso is just awesome! The guy not only can draw, and draw consistantly, but he's done 58 straight issues now... And 42 more to go... He deserves just as much credit for 100 BULLETS success, as well.
If Azzarello and Risso can manage to fit this story into the alotted hundred issues, it may just become a masterpiece.

BTW- For those who are either new to the series or just need a frequent refresher, I present to you some very good resources.
The first one, 100 B.U.L.L.E.T.S is a great fansite that includes detailed information on each of the characters as well as recent news about the series. Includes an impressive Who's Who of the cast.
Then we have "Catching Up" with 100 Bullets, a fantastic primer on everything that's happened so far. WARNING: Full of spoilers if you haven't read any or all of the series.
And here's one more site devoted to 100 BULLETS.

If I had to name one comic that I would use as a benchmark by which to judge all other comics... it would be 100 BULLETS. With a gritty atmosphere and an intense storyline, it has engrossed readers for over fifty issues. And will until #100.

100 BULLETS is one of the books that brought crime-noir back to comics. There are no super-heroes. There is no magical, fantasy angle. It's just guns, babes and the street. Oh... and mixed with government conspiracies, mafia-type organizations and much paranoia to boot.

It is highly reccomended to start at the beginning. However, if you want to get a quick taste, grab #27 (the one with the baseball player on the cover). That was probably the first one I read. Not only does it feature a key character of America's pop culture, it also sets up another character who became real popular in a later storyline.

Azzarello and Risso first worked together on a mini-series, called JONNY DOUBLE, that was three-parts hardboiled crime and one-part action. Moody and unforgiving, the story prepared the world for what was to come from these two creators later.
They also did a piece in an issue of FLINCH, a horror anthology that DC put out several years ago under it's Vertigo imprint. Apart they are great but together they are fantastic. These two guys should never part.

100 BULLETS has been going for 58 issues but you can find almost all of them reprinted in handy trade paperbacks.
SPLIT SECOND CHANCE reprints #6-14.
HANG UP ON THE HANG LOW reprints #15-19.
A FOREGONE TOMORROW reprints #20-30.
SIX FEET UNDER THE GUN reprints #37-42.
SAMURAI reprints #43-49.
THE HARD WAY (due out around May or June) reprints #50-58.

If you find that you like 100 BULLETS, you may also enjoy DAREDEVIL, GOTHAM CENTRAL or the THE LOSERS.

1 comment:

Psychbloke said...

Tried to respond to this yesterday but blogger was buggering me around....

I most certainly have picked up 100 Bullets - got trade one and two for Christmas , 3-5 due from Amazon any day now.
I'm just at the bit where the larger backstory is starting to emerge....
Didn't really read this post properly, just in case....The fact that I'm so worried about spoilers probably says something about the quality of the writing....
It's certainly great stuff - worth careful reading.
I pick up the comic now, but am resisting the temptation to read 'em til I've caught up!

As for Seven Soldiers zero- I'm kinda disappointed he ain't running with that team, but I suppose the relevant stuff is in those more opaque bookend sections.