100 Bullets #48 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: In Stinked: Part Two

Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Eduardo Risso
Colored by: Patricia Mulvihill
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Publisher: DC Comics > Vertigo

#1 with a bullet

It seems that the Vertigo line has had a “classic” series in the ongoing stages for the entire decade it has been an imprint of DC. Sandman, Preacher, and Transmetropolitan, come to mind as series that will live on in trade paperback for a very long time. Currently, 100 Bullets, with the exception of Hellblazer, is the big Vertigo book, the classic that is still being published monthly. Sure books like Fables and Y: The Last Man are out there, and wonderful, but neither has had the impact, yet, that 100 Bullets has.

Currently, Azzarello and Risso are taking a bit of a break from the monthly rigors of 100 Bullets to work on Batman. While I am enjoying their work in the DCU a great deal, seeing 100 Bullets as a bi-monthly in the interim is pretty difficult. It’s been a while, so I almost forgot about the book coming out this week. It was a real pleasure when I went to the shop and picked it, two long months from the last.

It’s all hit, with no miss…

The concept of 100 Bullets is really simple. A man, Agent Graves, shows up and gives you a briefcase with an untraceable pistol and, you guessed it, 100 bullets. You are also given a picture and irrefutable proof of “who” ruined your life. It’s then up to you to do with the information what you will.

If that were all the book was about it would have gotten old really quick. 100 Bullets is really more deeply about a huge governmental conspiracy involving Agent Graves and a huge cast of individuals. Mr. Azzarello, though, throws in enough smaller tales so the bigger story never takes over the book and bogs it down. So, Azzarello has hit on a perfect combination between the convoluted machinations of the “Minutemen” versus “The Trust” with stories like the current less steeped in continuity, “In Stinked.”

“In Stinked” which began last issue, may be a nice place to take a quick sample of the book. Following the dim-witted Jack and Mike, who actually debuted in issue #21, you’ll get a nice idea of what the book’s about. The difference with Jack, as compared to the others that received Agent Graves goodie bag, is that the guy who screwed up his life was a junkie, but the junkie was himself. The pair is visiting the “Jungle Park” of Mike’s cousin, Garvey. Garvey is involved in the illegal sale, and hunting, of tigers. A group comes in to kill tigers for their skins, and various other portions of their bodies. Mr. Azzarello describes the inhuman practices in great detail.

Death and dismemberment is fine, just don’t hurt an animal!

Azzarello has a tremendous gift for realistic portrayals of the human condition. We see it here again, with Jack, who it seems has a soft spot in his heart for animals. While Jack has butchered humans in the past, it seems he cannot deal with animal cruelty. His anger leads to a bloody confrontation that concludes next month. This attitude isn’t something all that uncommon. How many times have you gone to a movie where there are screams of when an animal dies? Yet, the dozens, or more, murders of men and women illicit nary a whisper? I thought so.

Eduardo Risso’s artwork is the perfect fit for Mr. Azzarello’s stories. What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before. Azzarello and Risso are turning out a classic story every month (bi-monthly now—damn the luck).

Azzarello continually weaves exceptional tales that captures the truly odd nature of man. If you really want to give the book a look, I highly recommend getting started with the trade paperbacks, which have collected all the stories up through #42. Don’t jump on this series in the middle, but if you’re not reading it, by any means necessary jump on!