Bullets: First Shot, Last Call
very cynical person. I tend to not believe someone I don't
know when they tell me what is "hot" and worthwhile.
So when critics start raving about a certain movie or a certain
comic book, skepticism is my fallback position (you're probably
recognizing the irony of me, the guy who weekly gives his
uninformed opinion about what comics are worth your time,
telling you I don't trust critics, but try to remember that
I am more trustworthy than anyone you know, including your
spouse, just because I say so).
Anyway, my point being that I sometimes miss out on some good
titles because of my Critic Caution, and one of those good
titles is 100 Bullets written by Brian Azzarello and
drawn by Eduardo Risso.
walks up to you with a suitcase that contains a gun, 100 untraceable
rounds of ammunition, an unlimited license to carry said weapon,
and irrefutable proof that someone has wronged you in the
absolute worst way. What would you do: walk the morally righteous
path and let it go, or take your shot (in a very literal way)?
That's the question posed by Azzarello in the form of Agent
Graves, the mysterious stranger giving people the chance for
be as impressed with this book if it were just an anthology
of crime stories that keep asking the same question, but the
book shows signs of conspiratorial undertones when it comes
to Agent Graves and his "associate" Mr. Shepherd.
Azzarello raises questions about their true agenda: Who is
Graves? Are the people that, according to Graves, deserve
to be deader than Andrew Dice Clay's career really as guilty
as he claims, or are they part of a hit list of people he
just don't like? What's Shepherd's connection and what is
his role in this?
fun about the way Azzarello tells it is that all this conspiracy
stuff is just where it should be: in the background to the
actual story. It's all superbly understated to the point where
you can ignore the conspiracy aspect and focus on the really
very good crime drama Azzarello sets up.
arc, about Dizzy Cordova and her search for the truth about
the murder of her husband and child, is full of the flavor
of urban drama in the vein of Boyz In The Hood and
HBO's The Wire (an underrated HBO drama, as if such
a thing were possible). It's gripping and yet shies away from
being a predictable morality play where the lead character
decides whether killing in the name of justice is right.
Dizzy has to decide if death is good enough for her targets
(and don't worry; some people buy it in horrible ways).
arc, Shot, Water Back, about a bartender framed for a horrendous
crime and given the chance for revenge on the woman who did
the framing, is equally interesting and is the point where
more of the conspiracy aspect shines through.
is appropriate for the book: grim and gritty being the fashion
for crime drama. I've never heard of Risso before, but he
has a great touch with the different ethnicities in the book.
Far too many comic artists make Latinos look too similar ("You
mean they don't all wear bandanas, have goatees, and sport
gold teeth? I'm utterly shocked!" said generic comic
makes every character unique and remembers to keep it realistic
when depicting "retired" gang members as being in
their mid-20s at latest. My only problem wit the art on this
book is the inking, or lack thereof. There is no inker listed
so I assume that the colorist filled-in in that respect. At
times it works to the advantage of the story, but most of
the time it makes everything look awkward (especially in the
beginning of the book, the characters looks jagged and freakish).
all, this is a great way to kick off a series, so a tip of
the hat to Azzarello in that respect. This book is also a
damn fine value, priced at the ridiculous $9.95. For that
low price, you get the equivalent of five single-issue comics,
plus a back-up story that got thrown into the collection (5&1/2
issues for $10? Has DC Comics lost its collective mind?).
fans of crime drama, this is a must-have, and I'd be willing
to wager that more than the regular Vertigo crowd could dig
this book. And remember: I'm the only trustworthy critic out
there. Roger Ebert will just steal your goobers when you're
100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call