Welcome to Recall Reviews, the column that features a selection of last week’s comics and yesteryear’s classic series!
This is it! The 100 Bullets
finale! Before we start, I’d like to point out that unlike previous articles, I will NOT
be holding back most spoilers, except for the very VERY end; that I will let you read on your own if you haven’t already. Also, some spoilers from previous issues will come up, so be aware of that. This article will mostly be synopsis of the finale to bring up important points, followed by what these events mean and my thoughts.
Unlike previous articles, I will not be including reviews of last week’s books. I wanted to devote this article just to the series finale, because it’s a big one! But don’t worry, regular reviews will return next week.
And now, let’s begin!
100 BULLETS Pt. 7 of 7 #89-100 “100 BULLETS” (FINALE)
Coming into this finale, things can seem confusing. The Minutemen have been picking off members of the Trust on Graves’ orders, but we’re still not sure what his endgame is: it’s mentioned earlier that Graves is interested in getting his job back, and possibly a house of his own in the Trust, so those are possible motives. When we last left our “heroes”, there appeared to be some dissent in the group. Victor told Graves “f- you and f- your attaché”, Cole is upset about the death of Wylie, and it’s still unclear what Lono’s business with Jack and Loop is and who he’s really working for. Plus, Dizzy is settling into her new job, but we haven’t heard how her colleagues feel about it.
Possibly the most rebellious of the group is Cole, who, as we saw at the end of issue #88, has now lost two people he could call friends; Wylie and Mr. Branch. It might be hard to call Cole and Mr. Branch friends, but they do have history. Plus, both were killed while Cole was around but he couldn’t do anything about it. In his position, one could certainly wonder what this is all for.
As I said earlier, it’s unclear who Lono is really working for. During a phone call that started with Jack, he winds up talking with Cole. Knowing that Cole is currently “between bosses” and in possession of the famed painting, Lono quickly instructs Loop to kill him. Unfortunately, this doesn’t clear up who Lono seeks to collect the painting for, as both Graves and the Trust want it. But the turn of loyalty and quick decision to kill Cole is strange.
Included in this arc is a short story about a young boy who has the opportunity to make a name for himself in a local gang. However, when his chance to make his move is botched, someone else gets their own opportunity. The inclusion of this story is a bit of a mystery to me; it’s another example of how brutal life can be, or it’s just a page filler to get to the final 8 issues. But if you take a step back and look at the details of a gangbanger handing a kid a gun and an opportunity and Graves’ doing the same for someone who has been wronged, the situations are not that different. Each story has a different ending though, and this kid could symbolize another path others could have faced.
In issue #91, we finally get the answer to a question a long time coming: where does Graves get the bullets and information for his attachés? From a man named Mr. Rothstein, who we learn has connection to the local authorities, CIA, FBI, and higher (probably meaning the Trust, it’s revealed later they are at least aware of each other). Remember Mr. Slaughter from issue #87? He’s fulfilling his job from Joan D’Arcy, which we now realize is to kill Rothstein. With Rothstein dead, Graves no longer has access to his resources, seemingly ending his war with the Trust. At least, that’s what D’Arcy believes. We learn later that this hit was not authorized by the Trust and was against some sort of contract between the Trust and Graves. Unfortunately, that’s all we hear about a contract, but we do learn that the Trust has rogue members just as much as the Minuteman.
Meanwhile, it seems Cole, who is still alive, was able to overtake Loop and shove him into the trunk of their car. Cole takes him into the woods, appearing to want to kill him, when Jack suddenly knocks out Cole and makes off with the painting as Loop runs away; Remi sets out to complete his hit on Joan D’Arcy, only to lead to a career-ending conclusion and a life-threatening realization; and Graves meets with Javier Vasco, only to be surprised when Augusts Medici shows up, too, leading to a showdown we’ve been waiting for sin Shepherd’s death: Lono vs. Dizzy!
At first, neither has a clue who they are talking to until Dizzy tells Lono her name. Dizzy still doesn’t know Lono, but he certainly knows her, thanks to that last call Shepherd made. Lono delivers the message he was supposed to, but adds his own opinion on top of it. Then the gloves are off. The two cause a commotion, which quickly comes to the attention of Medici, Vasco, and Graves. Then we see something I don’t recall ever seeing before: Graves being afraid. He realizes what’s going on outside and fears for Dizzy’s life. An entire issue later, we discover that Lono has kidnapped Dizzy before graves could get to her, and he’s on his way to Miami to make good his promise to Benito, to deliver a Minuteman to him. Unfortunately for Lono, he picked the wrong Minuteman. You remember Benito’s feelings for Dizzy? Well, Lono gets something unexpected but maybe not surprising from Benito, still trying to prove himself. Suddenly, Lono seems out of a job on either side.
We soon learn just how many houses Graves has taken down, as we see Megan conferring with two other heads; all that’s left are houses Medici, Dietrich, D’Arcy (who survived the second attack by Remi), and Vermeer. Only four houses left of the original thirteen, and it turns out three have their own plans against the fourth.
Meanwhile, Loop and Cole have reunited when they run into Jack with Echo Memoria. Knowing who she is, Cole quickly kills her, and the group reconnects as Victor shows up, supposedly to reclaim the painting and deal with Cole. Words are exchanged, and everyone heads to Miami.
Literally, everyone is in Miami now, and the party is about to begin. A lot of events go down in the final chapter, and I won’t say everything that happens here, but the gist is as follows. Tensions are high between just about everybody, and loyalties are tested and exposed. Several Minutemen, given the opportunity, decide they want out, whether it’s because they don’t believe in Graves’ cause or they just don’t know what it is. Many people die, some poetically, all pretty brutally. Strangely, the future started to look good for most people until a couple heads of house decided to be greedy and step too far. There may not be many members left, but what is a Minuteman to do when one house acts against the other? Their job.
Like I said, I won’t give away the exact ending, but I will leave you with this thought: though it may seem vague and inconclusive, I felt it was a wholly satisfying ending. Knowing what we know about these characters, I think it’s safe to say what happened. Or, you can take this opportunity to formulate your own opinion and create your own ending!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention again the incredible combination this creative team is. Azzarello creates a thrilling and epic tale, while Risso pencils and inks the darkness it evokes. The addition of Patricia Mulvihill in issue #15 really brought the series into a new world, and Dave Johnson’s covers are among my favorites of any comic. A one-of-a-kind team that when they get together, can create a gripping book. For more from this team, check out Jonny Double, Flashpoint – Batman: Knight of Vengeance, and Spaceman.
Well, that’s it! That’s 100 Bullets. Though events toward the end may get confusing and some characters seem to act with unspecified motivation, this is an all-around great story. Many consider it to be one of the greatest crime stories ever told, in comics or otherwise, and I couldn’t agree more. Loaded with symbolism, metaphors, and foreshadowing, 100 Bullets is among the most thought-out series I’ve ever read. It is the first ongoing comic book series I read beginning to end, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. At this point, it probably goes without saying, but I cannot recommend this series enough to readers who enjoy gritty, dramatic, and deep stories. If you’d like to discuss the series more, you know where to find me.
I hope you have enjoyed my review of 100 Bullets! Next week, I’ll be back to take a look at another classic series, Gotham Central!
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