‘100 Bullets': The final curtain falls
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EXCLUSIVE: First look at the cover art for the 100th and final issue of "100 Bullets"
Vertigo’s "100 Bullets" began with a truly killer concept: There’s an attache case containing a gun and 100 bullets — not just any bullets, though, these were special. Better than a "get out of jail free" card or a license to kill, the ammunition handed out by the cryptic Agent Graves is untraceable and, in fact, any police detectives who come across these singular slugs in a corpse will find their investigation goes exactly nowhere. More than immunity, the people who are handed that attache case become ghosts in the urban machine …
It was that starting-point notion that made "100 Bullets" such a gripping new pulp experience when the Vertigo title arrived in the summer of 1999. The series, written by Brian Azzarello, has the manic mayhem of Quentin Tarantino and hard-boiled simmer of Lew Archer to it when the bodies start falling, but behind it all there are also mysterious shadow forces at work, secret cabals that are moving people across chess boards that can’t even be seen except from the tallest citadels of power.
The series is coming to an end with its 100th issue, in February, and the series finale inspired artist Dave Johnson to create this evocative and tone-perfect cover image that you see here presented for the first time anywhere. The interior art, as always, is by Eduardo Risso. I’m a big fan of Risso’s work on this series and at times his silhouettes and sensibility remind me a bit of the late, great Alex Toth, which is never a bad thing.
Jim Lee, among the most celebrated comics creators around, once wrote that Agent Graves is "a cross between the archangel Gabriel and an old-fashioned G-man," and that’s about right. Lee wrote that in an introduction to the sublime "100 Bullets Vol. 3: Hang Up on the Hang Low," one of the dozen "100 Bullets" collections to-date that you can find on the DC/Vertigo page devoted to the title; in the same essay, Lee gushed that the series is "arguably the finest collaborative comic book this medium has produced in decades, weaving such themes as fatherhood, baseball and organized crime into a series of poignant tales as dark in their humor as they are gut-wrenching in their pathos." The series is coming to an end, but if you haven’t checked it out, this seems like the perfect time to dive into the library and check out this high-caliber entertainment.
– Geoff Boucher
(UPDATE: An earlier version of this post had a scrambled sentence and left Dave Johnson’s name out, sorry about that!)
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