Back when I wrote “10 comics that stuck“, someone mentioned in the comments that 100 bullets would make their top 10 list. In fact, I’ve never heard anything but praise for the series. Why it took me so long to finally pick it up is beyond me.
Well, I finally did and I’m happy to report all the accolades are well deserved. Brian Azzarello’s story, and yes – it’s a single 100 issue story, is full of a host of colorful characters and features a plot line that is full of so many twists and betrayals it never gets dull. It’s not very common for a writer and artist team to stick with a single series from start to finish, but I don’t know how this tale could have been told any other way.
The story gains it’s title from intriguing plot device. A mysterious man approaches someone who has been the victim of a terrible wrong. He gives them an attache case with documentation of the person responsible for the recipient’s woes. The case also contains a handgun and 100 bullets. He informs the candidate that both the gun and bullets are completely untraceable. In fact, any investigation that uncovers one of these bullets will immediately stop. It’s made clear that he is in no way suggesting the gun and bullets must, or necessarily should be used. They’re simply affording them with the opportunity, should they want to.
It’s a killer premise, and in a lesser writer could on it’s own spawn a series, but with Mr. Azzarello, it’s turns out to be only a small part of a much larger story.
Comics aren’t much without pictures. (and as Mike told us, vice versa as well!) As good as Brian Azzarello’s words are, they are equaled, if not surpassed, by the stunning work of Eduardo Risso. With a plot as big and sprawling as 100 Bullets, very clear storytelling on the part of the artist is a must. A reader could very easily get lost in Azzarello’s labrynth of betrayal if they were not being led by a master storyteller artist. Risso nails it.
Where Frank Miller’s Sin City get’s it’s style from the paring down, and removal of all but the most essential elements of a character, Risso’s work goes the opposite way and imbues each character with stunning individual personality. Each character has their own distinct look. Their own style of dress. Their own body language, the way they stand, the way they walk, hairstyle…everything. How he captures so much with so few lines is astounding. His line use is so efficient. Just look at the image above. That top panel…amazing. Risso captures it all, but never forgets he’s telling a story. Many artists can capture the look, but can’t tell a story. Others are master storytellers, but their art is flat and boring. Mr. Risso is the complete package. Every issue was a joy to look at.
100 Bullets, 100 issues, 100% fantastic. If you love noir stories like I do, read this series. You won’t be disappointed.
The series is available in 13 trade paperback volumes, but they’ve also just begun releasing deluxe hard cover editions as well. The Deluxe Edition Book One covers the first three paperbacks, and includes character design sketches by Eduardo Risso. 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book Two is scheduled to be released on April 17, 2012.