Page 45 Review by Stephen
We all die as we are born
gasping for air.
El Hombre Respira!
After the blood-bath finale of 100 BULLETS (every single one of those books reviewed!) Lono was himself left gasping for air with a great big bullet in his guts, yet here he is in a mass and potentially make-shift Mexican graveyard, at sunset, shovelling the dry earth onto a coffin. Prologue or epilogue? Only time will tell. Also: maybe its sunrise and hes been at it all night
Either way, the entire team behind 100 BULLETS is back with a wit-ridden vengeance, verbal sabres and all, including colour artist Trish Mulvihill whose rich tones are, as ever, the perfect complement to Rissos sharp silhouettes. So real is the feel of the heat that youll be reaching for your Factor 5,000.
Equally palpable excruciatingly so is the post-preamble torture scene. What is your personal pain threshold? How much can you endure to even watch? I ask because throughout this book Eduardo Risso has a way of making your toenails curl even as he pulls others off. Well, not Risso but Cortezs captain of action, Cráneo, is keen.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am that comics is a silent medium without the sort of sound effects that come, say, with the hatching of an Alien egg. The final panel of this inquisition will haunt you with that precise, glutinous crackling all the same. I think we can consider the information fully extracted, along with much more besides.
Cut to Father Manny who runs a remote mission full of orphans funded, whether he likes it or not, by Las Torres Gemales the Tower Twins in whose name the above information was being extracted. So thats awkward.
Its there that a young nun called Sister June is to be escorted by Brother Lono but the bus shes travelled in on also carried a D.E.A. about to be fingered by a thug recently released, much to his horror, from jail. Whether hell have any fingers left to do that fingering with is doubtful because hes being held in a smoke-glassed car opposite, very much against his will, by that overzealous torturer. That pick-up scene is so tense theres barely any air to breathe, Brother Lono and Sister June seemingly oblivious to whats going on around them.
Tension is one of the hallmarks of 100 BULLETS the arid air is thick with it. The protagonists are constantly challenging each other, baiting each other with tight, wit-riddled wordplay implicit with threats whether overtly voiced or not.
Its not just Azzarellos script, either, for Rissos glares can make your knees buckle from a continent away. No one wants to back down, so why is it that Brother Lono effectively does so in bar when relatively young shaven-headed Pico challenges him about eyeing up his girl?
Three years ago the conscienceless killing machine lumbered into confession and what he confessed before passing out made Mannys ears bleed. Yet there hes since stayed helping the thin-limbed orphans paint carved wooden statues for sale. Occasionally he strays into town for a drink before admitting himself to Sherriff Cesars jail for the night. They have an arrangement which both know is for other peoples good.
But other people havent been good.
The suave Cortez who administers the elusive Twin Towers drug trade is receiving visitors for State-side distributional discussions while ever vigilant for the D.E.A. dropping into town. His enforcer Cráneo has also been busy meaning that Sherriff Cesar has been busy with those whove seen the business end of Cráneos negotiation skills. So has Pico. Hes ditched one of those corpses on church land which is strictly off limits, threatening the fragile relationship between his boss Cortez and Father Manny and his mission. Now why, do you think, would he do that?
As stability is threatened and tempers fray, new threats are made, some more explicit than others; some involving the children. Pico reveals his secret, Father Manny discovers one he shouldnt but all the while, as Uncle Remus would say, Brer Lono, he lay low.
Remind me what tbest practice is for sleeping dogs, please.