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Reading 100 Bullets

Some previous readers (yes, both of you) may remember that I posted my impressions of Watchmen a couple months ago. I had never read a comic book before that, but Alan Moore had me hooked. So I figured that I should start reading something else, but I wasn't sure where to start. When I saw a blurb in GI about some series called 100 Bullets, I thought, hey, why not. If nothing else, it has a cool name.

It was awesome.

On a literary level, 100 Bullets is best described as Resovoir Dogs meets Lost meets Oliver Stone. The series basically combines Tarantino-style ultraviolence with a crazy conspiracy setting. All this is pretty amazing, but what makes 100 Bullets so great (and addictive to read) is the slow onion peel of the plot. The writers are rather fond of shrouding everything in mystery. They do answer your questions, but those answers ony yield more questions, similar to Lost. The effect is simultaneously maddening and compelling. You hate that the writers leave you hanging, but at the same time you keep reading because you have to know what happens. As a Lost junkie looking for something to fill the post-show void, 100 Bullets does a hell of a job.

Pictured: Success.

I can't say much about the plot because, well, talking about any part of it would be a spoiler. The best part of 100 Bullets is trying to figure out what's going on. The basic premise, though, starts like this. A person, always down on their luck and usually depressed, is approached by a mysterious old man named only Agent Graves. He then presents them with an attaché case with a gun, one hundred rounds of ammunition, a picture of someone who's ruined their life, and most importantly, the promise that if the recipient of the case uses the gun, they will not be punished or prosecuted. As fa as the recipient is concerned, he or she has complete freedom to take revenge on the person who ruined their life. It's a fascinating premise, and the main plot only gets better from there.

Going back to the comparison to Quentin Tarantino's cult classic Resovoir Dogs, let's just say that this is not a comic for the squish. There's a consistently high level of brutality, and a couple of the scenes are truly indescribable. If you think you've seen everything, well... 100 Bullets will prove you wrong, and it'll do it with a demonic smile. With that said, I thought that the violence actually added to the general effect. Seeing characters who you've grown attached to get holes blown through them resonates emotionally, to say the least. It's bloody brilliant in every sense of the phrase.

One other cool aspect of 100 Bullets os also the art. It's realistic, but really emphasizes light and shadow to accentuate the good and evil of the various characters. One recurring image which is almost iconic of the series is a face shrouded in shadow, but with the eyes and mouth emphasized.

As you can see, the image is simultaneously inspiring and unsettling. The dark shadows also help emphasize the blood splatters, always another constant in this series.

On the whole, I was thoroughly entertained by 100 Bullets. It's violent, twisted, disturbing, and I loved every minute of it. While this is not something that should be read by kids, everybody else needs to get a copy, ASAP. In the end, all I can say is, go read it.

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