Page 45 Review by Stephen
"The Trust decided the Minutemen are obsolete. I've been instructed to get rid of you."
"Get rid of?"
"Retire? Please, Shepherd... I believe the word was eliminate. That doesn't sound like it comes with a gold watch."
"No. More along the lines of a lead tie-pin."
100 BULLETS is a crime and conspiracy comic so sprawling in scope but so tightly plotted and taut with tension that most who read it was a monthly got lost in the long-games and caught between the cracks of the shifting allegiances both overt and covert. Thankfully you don't have that problem, especially now there are now new big, thick "books" rather than the slimmer "volumes" which are dropping out of print. They're each of them reviewed.
It's a war between the Houses of The Trust, The Minutemen they used to employ as keepers of the peace, and anyone Agent Graves believes he can use in his very long game of goading, guile and perfect positioning, even from the very beginning. They needed the Minutemen because each family judged the others' honesty by their own. It's not the sort of institution you'd then want to dissolve, is it?
"Medici has been whispering for years that the Minutemen were an obsolete institution.
"I prefer they think of us as rogue."
Exactly my point.
The crisp lines and ink-pool silhouettes boast an elegance to match the eloquence of Azzarello's pen. Risso's shadows are even stronger than Miller's in SIN CITY whilst Mulvihill has, throughout this series, balanced them with a warmth of colouring which, combined, makes for one of the most palpable atmospheres in comics. There are moments of explosive, balletic violence - more here perhaps than in any other book so far, for key characters are about to bite the desert dust - but they erupt from pages that are predominantly ominous and charged, as the dialogue dances between schemes and schemers who can look each other in the eye, lie through their teeth and grin while they're doing so. Or, who knows? Maybe they're telling the truth, or a truth, because the players are constantly taking the last speaker's words and twisting them in their own personal direction.
Here are the remains of those Minutemen again:
"The deal The Trust struck with the rest of the world... Well, the world's a lot smaller now."
"And The Trust is a lot bigger. We live by the original contract. If we don't... what are we?"
"About to break it."
Azzarello's characters do, of course, all possess more vocalised wit than humanly credible, with wordplay and power play galore, but that's what makes this so hardboiled. It's such a pleasure to see words dance in this deadly game of verbal fencing.
Everything about this series is serpentine - both coiled and deadly - so there's no predicting where the layers of manipulation will lead, when the head will strike, or where it will strike. And sometimes the first strike is the decoy.
If you enjoyed our three Comicbook Of The Month choices, CRIMINAL, STRAY BULLETS and SILVERFISH, I recommend you now launch yourself into 100 BULLETS in the knowledge that it gets better and better and its reprints are almost complete. One more book to go!