Excellent read

I just read Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s first volume of their comic series 100 Bullets. I had opened it up to read just one chapter before bed, but I was unable to put down the tales about Dizzy Cordova and Lee Dolan and quickly devoured the whole thing.

Now, I don’t know which side most people fall on the graphic novel debate, but I have read a number of compelling pieces of fiction in this format and am a huge fan of the artform. I guess 100 Bullets would best be classified as conspiracy noir.
The premise is that a shadowy figure enters the life of our protagonists and offers them a briefcase with an untraceable gun and the titular 100 bullets along with the evidence against someone who has wronged them – in quite serious ways – in their past. The protagonist is then left to decide how best to act with this new-gained knowledge and means. The internal and external conflicts experienced by the main characters ring true, even if the situations are extreme, and this is probably the greatest strength of the series. But while the individual stories of the gun’s recipients are fascinating, there is the also the underlying conspiracy behind the provision of the weapon and the lengths these mysterious forces can go to in preventing police involvement. I am looking forward to putting the puzzle pieces together as I read the further volumes in the series.

Azzarello’s feel for dialogue, particularly the prevalent street-level slang, is uncanny. And Risso’s dark and moody art – of which I was not a huge fan, at first – suits the tone of the stories perfectly. When the action leaves street level, where much of the story is grounded, and moves to the high-powered business world, the artwork makes a similar shift to brighter colors and sharper lines that demonstrate why the graphic novel can be a powerful storytelling form. Highly recommended.

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