My First Impressions of a Masterpiece: 100 Bullets

In the comic world, it’s so rare to be able to start a comic after it’s been declared such a masterpiece with it completely unspoiled. Either you’ll have started reading the series as it began to get big or someone may have spoiled the story for you. Going into Preacher, I knew things about what was going to happen. It was the same thing about Transmetropolitan! I knew nothing that would absolutely ruin the stories but it was just tiny details I had heard from around the comic store. But when it comes to Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets, I went in knowing absolutely nothing aside from the basic premise. And it was amazing. So here it goes: my first impressions of a classic series that won both the Harvey and Eisner awards.

Like many comic readers that are reading completed series these days, I read the trade paperback. The first trade, 100 Bullets: First shot, Last Call contains five issues and a short story from Vertigo’s Winter Edge comic. These three arcs are the frontline of what can make or break the series for a reader. While the short story is held together by a common thread, they operate independently.

The first story is simply called 100 Bullets. This three issue story follows a Dizzy Cordova, a female gangbanger that was just released from prison. While she was in prison, her husband and her infant son were gunned down in a drive-by shooting. She is approached by Agent Graves, a mysterious man that offer proof of who killed her family, a gun, and 100 untraceable bullets. This brings up the theme of the series for the first time: If you were given a chance to get away with murder, would you take it?

Agent Graves: I’m thinking Clint Eastwood for the movie.

While this arc is the hook for the series, I have to confess that it almost put me off a little bit. The constant stream of the colloquial street slang that many of the characters in this first section spoke annoyed me; I began questioning if the entire series would be like that. I can appreciate the realism of how they spoke but that does not mean it didn’t annoy me.

Despite not being the biggest fan of Dizzy’s story, I continued reading. And I am glad I did. The next story, Shot Water Back, revolved around Lee Dolan, a bartender whose life was destroyed when child pornography was found on his computer. Despite claiming to be framed, the man’s life was absolutely destroyed. Enter Agent Graves; Graves makes the same offer along with proof as to who put those pictures on Lee’s hard drive. This story seemed much more real to me and I enjoyed Lee’s conflicted nature about a possible redemption immensely.

The last little bit is from Vertigo Winter’s Edge, a collection of Vertigo comic shorts that revolved around Christmas in their own dark ways. Although Transmetropolitan’s story was excellent, I think this one beat it for dark humor. It takes places close to Christmas and involves an elderly woman committing to murder. The short is worth a read but is nothing that will make or break the entire series for anyone that’s interested.

In conclusion, if you’re a comic fan and you haven’t read this, you need to start. I’m not sure what the hell I’ve been doing all this time with it just sitting in my “To Read” pile. If you like either philosophical stories or hardboiled crime stories, then this is for you. So go out and get the first couple of trades on Amazon and follow me on this quest through a world of noir, deceit, murder and betrayal. I have the feeling it’ll be worth it.

I include this picture for the sole fact that it’s so amazingly done.

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About ChrisX

Comic geek, addicted gamer, future murse, and sometimes a writer. The three coolest things ever are X-Men, Back to the Future, and Doctor Who. Just saying. You should be awesome and follow me on twitter.