100 BULLETS #51
Story: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
reading issue #50, I went back to buy the first few trades
of this series to see where it all started, an exercise
I highly recommend. What you'll find, however, is that you
know more or less what you need to know already; it turns
out #50 was more of a recap than a revelation.
#51 takes us to New Orleans, lending the story a motif which
in lesser hands would come off as cheap simile. The first
read through, you might see the references to jazz improvisation
as mere local color. The second, they begin to harmonize
with the "directionless" worldview passively embraced
by Wylie, this arc's protagonist.
starts the second half of this series off by declaring his
hatred of guns. Everyone who has so far accepted the attache
from Agent Graves, loaded the gun with untraceable bullets
and changed their lives, has struggled with temptation and
trepidation, but Wylie's cool consideration seems more knowing,
more self-possessed. You realize, as he calmly debates with
Graves and Shepherd, what a black and white world the conspiracy
represents, how driven it is by absolutes: untraceable bullets,
incontrovertible evidence, absolute power, total corruption.
The series has always been about the underdog weighing moral
choices and taking risks to come out on top, but it's been
according to a melody carefully composed by the auteurs
this second half is about how quickly a little improvisation
can change the best-laid plan into something entirely different.
Or maybe not: jazz wanders, it experiments, it makes its
own rules, but it comes back to the same tune. As Wylie
says, "It's one man and his instrument changing reality,"
and that's as apt a description of the series so far as
issue is chock full of tension between those with clout
and those without, starting with the gold-chain-draped white
club owner's friction with his gnomish black trumpet-prodigy
drudge, and culminating in the second-to-last guy you'd
expect to see tied up and helpless in Wylie's hotel room.
Hard to believe the victim won't make it by arc's end, but
it's not looking good right now.
the highfalutin' themes are just the asphalt and yellow
lines you're inclined to miss on account of the sleek curves
and sharp bodywork of the story, characters, and dialogue
tearing up the road like an impossibly stylish, perfectly
engineered luxury coupe. The writing is as tight as Wylie's
garotte and the art is so bright it almost hurts.