Recall Reviews – Vertigo’s 100 Bullets #43-58, Justice League: Gods & Monsters – Batman #1 & Batman ’66 #25!

Welcome to Recall Reviews, the column that features a selection of last week’s comics and yesteryear’s classic series!

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First up, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite series of all time, 100 Bullets. This article will focus on issues #43-58, with the rest of the series to follow in future articles. And down below, we’ll be taking a look at a couple Bat-books from last week.

While I tried to avoid any major spoilers in my previous reviews (1-14, 15-30, 31-42), we’re getting to a point in the series where that may become near impossible. I’ll try to avoid spoilers for the issues talked about below, but I may not be able to avoid talking about events from previous issues. So, if you haven’t read the series yet but did read my review of issues #1-42 and want to remain un-spoiled, now is a good time to go buy those books, scroll to the bottom of the page, and read what I have to say about last week’s titles.

For those of you still here, let’s begin…

100 BULLETS Pt. 4 of 7 #43-58

Written by Brian Azzarello; Art by Eduardo Risso; Colors by Patricia Mulvihill; Covers by Dave Johnson

Issues #43-46 100 Bullets 43“Chill In The Oven”

Remember Loop Hughes? Guess where he’s been this whole time? If you remember the end of his first arc, issues #15-19, you’d know that he was arrested for murder. And maybe you thought, “wait, don’t recipients of Graves’ attaches have immunity from any law enforcement agency? How did he get caught?” If you didn’t catch on, it was all planned. Graves wanted Loop in prison to toughen him up. And who does he send to toughen him up? Lono.

“But wait, wasn’t Lono shot at the end of issue #40?” Yep, but he’s Lono: he won’t just die. But he can be played, and Graves and Shepherd set him up for a fall. Shepherd paid Lono in stolen bills from a bank robbery, so when Lono spent that money the robbery would be traced to him. It’s never said but we can assume that either Graves or Shepherd used their influence to send Lono to the prison Loop is being held at, more evidence that Graves and Shepherd have seemingly endless power and resources.

Though Loop and Lono don’t interact much in this story until the end, we get to see how they both survive in prison. Loop accidentally sent one of the toughest guys to the infirmary, leaving a target on his own back once that prisoner gets out. Lono plans on becoming the toughest guy, or just wants to pick a fight with anyone he sees. During his stay, Lono gets a visit from Shepherd, who explains why he’s in prison and the current state of the Minutemen and Graves. Lono then learns that he accidentally killed a fellow Minuteman, Milo Garrett. Througha series of events, both Lono and Loop end up in solitary confinement.

This arc is one of the reasons I would love 100 Bullets to be a TV show. The entire series would be great on the small screen, but something about this arc in particular, in addition to a couple others, would shine brightest. Last I heard, they were planning on making it into a movie instead, but I think it’s much better suited for TV. Maybe one day…

Issues #46-49 100 Bullets 48“In Stinked”

The return of Jack! Despite being given the opportunity, Jack has yet to fulfill his “mission” from Graves, which is to take care of the person responsible for how his life turned out: himself. We also see that he did not kill Mikey at the end of issue #22. Somewhere in New Jersey, the two are heading to see Mikey’s cousin, Garvey. Turns out Garvey runs a “zoo” filled with dangerous animals, caged for sport. When fellow “sportsman” come to town, Jack isn’t so happy with this scenario and take matters into his own hands.

This arc is otherwise insignificant, except to show that there is a deeper side to Jack. One that respects nature and the world, and deals with those who think they can control it.

Issue #50 100 Bullets 50“Prey For Reign”

Possibly the single-most exposition-filled issue, we now learn how far back the Trust goes, where they come from, and how powerful they really are. Told to us by a man named Victor Ray, who we later find out is a former Minuteman, we read that the U.S. of A. was almost entirely founded by the Trust. Perhaps you’re familiar with The Lost Colony of Roanoke? For you history buffs, I’ll let you read this one to learn how it ties in with The Minutemen.

While telling this story, Victor and his crewmates are hiding in a bar after a botched jewel heist when their missing partner returns. The ensuing action showcases how effective Victor is, and knowing he was a Minuteman makes a little more sense. Like I said, so much exposition that I don’t feel I can do it justice here, but this issue is very important, so read it for yourself.

Issues #51-57 100 Bullets 51“Wylie Runs The Voodoo Down”

(some Miles Davis to get you in the New Orleans mood)

So far, we know the backstories of only a few Minutemen; Dizzy, Loop, and Cole. Now it’s Wylie’s turn in the spotlight. While in his hometown of New Orleans, presumably brought there by Graves (last seen together at the end of issue #42), Wylie gets a visit from Mr. Shepherd and Dizzy. Wylie and Dizzy spend a little time together, discover they have a few things in common, and share another horrifying experience. Meanwhile, Shepherd takes a meeting with the head of the Madrid Family to discuss business. We learn more about Wylie’s past, like the fact that he had a girlfriend and her death is Shepherd’s fault (hence the ending of issue #42) and he has friends who run a shady side-business. When pressured, Wylie doesn’t know who he can trust any more.

What impacted me the most in this arc was a trumpet player by the name of Marty, though some folks refer to him as Gabe. He plays a crucial role in a pivotal moment in Wylie’s life, and unfortunately ends up on that list of innocent victims who fall prey to Graves’ “game”. Read the series to find out exactly what happens, and be prepared for a bit of a heartbreak.

Issues #58 100 Bullets 58“Coda Smoke”

Speaking of heartbreak, there’s no avoiding this plot-point if I’m going to talk about this issue, so for fair warning, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! If you wish to skip a major spoiler and turning point in the series, go ahead and jump down to the next section about last week’s titles and come back after you’ve read this issue. Otherwise, let’s continue…

We start by seeing Lono sparring Loop back in prison when he gets a phone call from Mr. Shepherd, who is badly injured driving in his car. We flash back to Shepherd, Dizzy, and Wylie stopping at a gas station. Shepherd and Wylie are talking about the state of the Minutemen when Shepherd asks Wylie what the “magic word” is that “wakes up” a Minuteman. Suddenly, seemingly under a kind of spell, Dizzy shoots Mr. Shepherd in the chest. He drives off alone as Dizzy calls out to him, no longer in her “spell state”. Shepherd then passes the word along to Lono, and tells him it isn’t Dizzy’s fault. He collapses in the desert amongst a pack of coyotes.

Was this a freak accident? Probably not. Was this Graves doing? Probably. It’s been clear for a while that Graves and Shepherd may be “colleagues” but they don’t exactly get along. Since Graves left it up to Wylie to kill Shepherd, who clearly didn’t, he decided to try again with Dizzy. Motivations for this event will come later, so stay tuned…

Though it may not seem like it, Azzarello has slowly been bringing us into this world so we can understand how deep and brutal it is; keyword being slowly. Right about now, we’re starting to get a sense for where everybody is at, what roles they play, and maybe some foreshadowing of what’s to come. That’s just one contributing factor to what makes this such a strong series and still one of my favorites to this day.

That’s it for now, but 100 Bullets #59-75 will be up next week.

 

And now from last week’s offerings…

Justice League: Justice League Gods and Monsters Batman 1Gods And Monsters – Batman #1

Written by J.m DeMatteis & Bruce Timm; Art by Matthew Dow Smith; Colors by Jordie Bellaire; Regular Cover by Francesco Francavilla, Variant Cover by Darwyn Cooke

I might have missed the memo that this issue (and possibly the entire Gods & Monsters storyline doesn’t include Bruce Wayne), but I was not disappointed at all. This was a dark and interesting look at what might have happened if the role of “Batman” had been filled by Kirk Langstrom, who seems to have taken something similar to his Man-Bat serum to cure his cancer. Another change in this world include the continued existence of Joe Chill. It’s brought up that he has a history of murdering innocent people, but the Wayne’s are never specifically mentioned. Rupert Thorne exists in this world as well, but he is nowhere near the most powerful man in Gotham he can sometimes be. A very cool “Elseworlds” tale, and I’m definitely looking forward to more in this franchise.

Batman ’66 Batman '66 25#25

“Night of The Harlequin” Written by Jeff Parker; Art by Lukas Ketner; Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick; “BadMen” Written by Gabe Soria; Art by Ty Templeton; Colors By Tony Avina; Cover by Michael & Laura Allred

I thought it might be refreshing to end on a more fun note than the previous two reviews, and what’s more fun than the camp-classic Batman ’66?

Though we’ve seen other modern Batman characters brought to the ’66 Universe lately, such as Lord Death Man and Clayface, Parker brings us probably the most recognizable: Harley Quinn! Under the names Holly Quinn/Harlequin, the former psychiatrist turned patient of Arkham Asylum has escaped! This series continues to be a light-hearted take on our caped-crusader. I’ve been a fan of Batman since I was a kid, and though I enjoy the dark stuff like The Long Halloween, Year One, and Snyder/Capullo’s current run, it’s nice to take a break and just have a laugh once in a while. If you haven’t read this series yet, you can start virtually anywhere. Each issue is a self-contained story, so why not start right here?

As a second story, Gabe Soria brings us a parody I’d never expect and didn’t know I wanted until I read it: the villains of Batman ’66 meets Mad Men. Penguin, The Joker, Catwoman, and The Riddler are looking to change their image in Gotham, and where better to stat than the advertising agency of FKR&D? (Finger, Kane, Robinson, & …Dick Sprang? Paul Dini? Kudos to listing Bill Finger first, by the way.) Unbeknownst to the villains though, Batgirl is among the employees! Funny and clever, this one is worth checking out.

 

Looking for more recommendations? Find me on Twitter @4ColorPhil

That’s it for now, see you next week!

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