Recall Reviews – Vertigo’s 100 Bullets #59-75, Sex Criminals #11, Batgirl Annual #3, JL: Gods And Monsters – Superman, & Black Widow #20 (FINAL ISSUE)!

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 #59-75, with the rest of the series to follow in future articles. And down below, we’ll be taking a look at a couple highlights from the shelves.

While I tried to avoid any major spoilers in my previous reviews (1-14, 15-30, 31-4243-58), we’re at the point in the series where that is 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 #1-58 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. 5 of 7 #59-75

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

Issue #59 “The Calm”100 Bullets 59

In the same vein as issues #37-42, Loop gets his own solo story! Not exactly solo, given that Lono and Victor are in it as well, but the cover is definitely in the same style. Loop and Lono have been released from prison and are about to pick up Victor, who is enjoying the company of a “lady friend”. Meanwhile, another, as yet unknown, man is in another room, talking to “someone” about some future plans. The boys talk about their own future, and other people’s lives get caught in the wake. I’ve said before the Graves’ game leaves many victims, innocent or otherwise. But not all victims can blame Graves; some of these other men are just bad guys.

We’ve seen Victor before (issue #50) but this story helped us get a better look into his personality and his interactions with other people. We get see Loop “all grown up” too, fresh out of prison and into a new suit. Nothing really new about Lono here, though; more news to come from him soon…

Issues #60-63 “Staring At The Son”100 Bullets 61

This next arc contains two stories: the first continuing and progressing the plot of the overall series, the other focusing on a hotel worker and his new customer, a man you may remember from issue #20, a drug dealer named Spain. His part in this arc, to my memory, isn’t consequential to the main story, so I’ll pass on talking about it for now, but that is by no means meant to indicate it isn’t worth reading. It’s cool to see the “reappearance” of a seemingly unimportant character from 40 issues ago.

Augustus, Benito, and Megan are meeting in Miami; Benito appears to be shadowing his father with the intent to one day take over the family business, and Megan flew in Mr. Branch for a meeting, but Mr. Branch is busy with another meeting with Cole Burns. Augustus also takes in a meeting, but I’ll save that surprise for when you read it.

The fact that the two stories were intertwined felt a little confusing. I kept expecting the two to in fact be connected, but the only connection I could find was that they were all staying in the same hotel. If they had been split into separate two-issue arcs it might have made a little more sense. Overall, still a good read.

Issue #64 “The Dive”100 Bullets 64

One of the single-most tense issues featuring a man who has shown nothing but unpredictability: Jack Daw. He’s been spending his time in underground fights, still holding onto the attaché he received from Graves in issue #21. Jack tries to return the attache when Graves pays him a visit, but Graves informs him that’s not how it works. It’s an intense conversation between two stubborn fighters, definitely better experienced firsthand, so I’ll let you get at it. Every page is great.

 

Issues #65-66 “New Tricks”100 Bullets 66

With Shepherd gone, the Trust needs a new Warlord. Enter Lono.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why hire an untamable dog for a Warlord?!” While he is that (kinda), he also is one of the few who will complete a job no matter what it takes. We’ve seen before that Lono has no bounds. There seems to be no better qualification for the job, given that the Trust will also do anything to get what they want.

On his first assignment from the Trust, Lono “interrogates” Fulvio Carlito about the botched assassination attempt on House Medici (see issue #39), while Loop and Victor wait for him. They have their own time in a strip club, where Loop’s lessons seem to be ongoing. Everybody has something to teach Loop.

Earlier, I speculated that Shepherd’s death may have been orchestrated, or at least anticipated, by Graves. The latest piece of evidence behind this claim is Lono taking over Shepherd’s job. I’ve been doing some math while reading the series, and things weren’t adding up. Let me lay it out for you:

  • There must always be 7 Minuteman, plus Graves and the Trust’s Warlord.
  • Before Shepherd died, Graves had assembled or contacted Dizzy Cordova, Cole Burns, Lono, Loop Hughes, Jack Daw, Wylie Times, Milo Garrett, and Victor Ray. Coming up in issue #70 we’ll meet Remi Rome, who we’ve only seen in flashbacks without a name or face. That’s 9 total. Why the extra two?
  • It could be speculated that Graves knew Milo wanted out, so he drafted Dizzy. That still leaves one extra.
  • Graves may have wanted Lono to train Loop because he knew Lono would take over as Warlord if something happened to Shepherd. Now we have 7.
  • “But I thought Lono was never officially working for Graves since the events of Atlantic City? That would leave the total count at 8, not 9.” That may have been what Lono said, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way. He’s been doing jobs for Graves since issue #5. Not convinced? Lono probably had a hand in one last favor for Graves at the end of issue #66, given that it also involved Loop and Victor. And this one hits the Trust pretty hard.

So, with Milo and Shepherd gone and Lono in Shepherd’s place, Graves has his 7 Minutemen. The gang’s all here…

Issue #67 “Love Let Her”100 Bullets 67

Taking a little break from the intensity comes a single issue focused on something we don’t see in this series much: heart. And love. Told almost entirely in thought-boxes, we read the feelings of a man in love, or at least infatuated, with Dizzy. We see several men throughout the tale, including Benito, Wylie, and Mr. Branch, who if you recall were all very taken with Dizzy when they met her. A fine stand-alone issue, this is a sweet story that can lightly tug at your heartstrings whether you were familiar with these characters or not. As I said, a break from the intensity, both refreshing and well-earned by the reader before we dive back in…

Issues #68-69 “Sleep, Walker”100 Bullets 68

The next two issues can get a little confusing. With time jumps and introductions to new characters, I got a bit mixed up. At the end of the day though, it all made sense.

We flash back to meet a younger Augustus Medici, breaking the news of a passing House member to another. Flash forward to that same House member, leaving his home as if he knows he won’t be back. Meanwhile, Jack is looking for more fights, but not many are stepping up to go against an undefeated “sure thing”. Until that someone is Lono. Yep, Jack and Lono are gonna bare-knuckle box their eyes out, and Lono even got Jack a special gift. That right there is worth the price of admission. The rest of the story involves characters relating to certain events of issue #66, so if you haven’t read it yet I won’t spoil you here.

Issues #70-74 “A Wake”100 Bullets 71

Now we come to Remi, the final Minuteman. How we meet him is interesting, given that most of the arc seems to be focused on his brother Ronnie. It’s never expressly said, but it appears that Ronnie works for the mob as a debt collector when he finds out his brother may be stealing from a major industry in town. We get the sense that Remi is a bit of a dead beat pretty quickly, given that he may be stealing, he still lives with his mom, and has to sneak his girlfriend in and out for visits. To be fair though, Ronnie lives with their mom too. Events unfold, and Remi is “awakened” by the magic word.

We also see the funeral and fallout of the passing of a head of House, as seen in issue #69. What unfolds is tragedy worthy of Shakespeare in my opinion, as it rang similar to Romeo & Juliet, but without the romance. I hope.

Issue #75 “Amorality Play”100 Bullets 75

Another stand-alone issue, we meet the newest recipient of Graves’ attaché, with seemingly no relation to the rest of his work. Is Graves really this interested in letting people find justice? If so, he’s approaching superhero levels of justice-seeking, and true vigilantism at its best. While we don’t know exactly how this man’s story ended, we get to see again that not everybody has an easy time with this decision. In fact, it seems very few have been ready to jump at the chance to right the wrongs others have inflicted on them. Just don’t ask Lono what to do. We know his answer.

That’s it for now, but 100 Bullets #76-88 will be up next week, with the finale the following week!

 

And now from last week’s offerings…

BATGIRL ANNUAL #3Batgirl Annual 3 – Written by Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher; Art by Bengal, David Lafuente, Ming Doyle, & Mingjue Helen Chen; Colors by Bengal, Gabe Eltaeb, Ivan Plascencia, & Mingjue Helen Chen; Cover by Bengal

I haven’t been the biggest fan of the new Batgirl run (since issue #35) but I started to warm up with the second arc. However, this Annual is my favorite thing from these writers yet. Most annuals are used to tell extra-long stories because of the larger format, or to tell several small and sometimes unrelated self-contained stories; this issue cleverly embodies the best aspects of both.

Batgirl is chasing a new villain when she encounters a slew of unexpected teammates: Helena and Dick of Spyral, Spoiler, Batwoman, and Olive and Maps of Gotham Academy. It’s a long mission to track down Batgirl’s culprits, but as different artists portray each team-up, the smaller chapters add up to one overarching main story. Very well handled and thought out, Stewart & Fletcher.

As for the art, each creator brought their own flare and personality to their respective pages. Bengal’s straight-forward and fast paced art brought a sense of urgency to Batgirl and Spyral’s tasks; Lafuente & Eltaeb’s bright pencils and colors threw some fun into an unexpected, but probably not final, team-up; Doyle & Plascencia convey a darker side of this mission with Batwoman; and Mingjue Helen Chen brought a child-like feel of discovery and adventure (in the library!) with Olive and Maps. I know it’s not canon in this universe, but I was expecting Barbara to be a bit more brushed up on her library sciences. Hit the books, Gordon! (see Batman ’66 and respective TV show).

All-in-all, a very effective Annual issue and a fun and inviting book for new readers, with enough intrigue and reference to hopefully inspire them to catch up on older issues.

SEX CRIMINALS #11Sex Criminals 11 – Written by Matt Fraction; Art and Regular Cover by Chip Zdarsky; Sketch Covers by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky; XXX Variant Cover by Bryan Lee O’Malley

One of the downsides of a few creator owned books, such as Sex Crimz and Saga, is hiatuses. The wait is almost unbearable, but when the book comes back and kicks it up a notch, the payoff is worth it. Not only did issue #11 come back with a Bryan Lee O’Malley variant cover and super-exclusive sketch covers, but Jon & Suz have driven themselves (in a monster truck!) into a whole new world; finding other people with their special talents. We also catch up with the rest of the crew, including Jon’s doctor who made a new lady friend. With location-specific pop-culture references and never-ending laughs and drama, this is a great release from a 6-month hiatus. Thanks boys, glad you’re back.

BLACK WIDOW #20Black Widow 20 – Written by Nathan Edmonson; Art and Cover by Phil Noto

Wow. What a great run. I wasn’t reading much Marvel when this series began but it became my gateway to much more. I’m sad that it’s ending and nothing is planned to come back yet, but maybe someday. If it does come back, I hope it’s this creative team again, because it’d difficult to name a better pair of artists to introduce new readers to such a complicated character and have those readers keep coming back for more. What initially brought me in was the art, but the writing and history of the character kept me here. Whenever I think of Black Widow or recommend a great solo-series to someone, this will be the run I turn to. Being the final issue, I won’t spoil anything here, but know that it’s a heavy one. Well done, Edmonson & Noto.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS – SUPERMAN #1Justice League Gods And Monsters Superman 1 – Written by J.M. DeMatteis & Bruce Timm; Art and Colors by Moritat; Regular Cover by Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd; Variant Cover by Darwyn Cooke

Another prequel to the movie, this issue focuses on the man known to us as The Man of Steel. However, this is not Clark Kent; this is Hernan Guerra, an immigrant boy from Mexico. Much like the Batman issue, this is a much darker story than we’re used to seeing from Superman. Through years of confusion and frustration, Hernan finally comes to terms with his powers and learns to use them for a higher purpose. But along the way, his actions make you start to wonder what “Gods And Monsters” really implies about these characters. Well written, brilliantly drawn, and the next big chapter in the Gods And Monsters series. I wonder what this week’s issue has in store for us…

 

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

That’s it for now, see you next week!

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