It was a rather warm Bangalore afternoon which saw me sneak into Goobees Book republic, a small bookstore (the city’s best little bookstore, as they like to call themselves) situated below sea level on Church Street. I entered there with the noble wish of browsing through the pages, but ended up hooked to the title. Vol 3, I believe that was so, was staring at me from the rather admirable collection of graphic novels that Goobees has; and it had me at the first square.
100 Bullets is a sequence of 100 stories by Brian Azzarello (who I had never heard of before), drawn by Ed Lisso. The basis of the story is rather trite: it tells of a conglomerate of 13 rich and powerful families (the Trust) which controls all that is relevant in North America and Europe. The Trust, in their mistrust of each other, form a group of 7 mercenaries called the Minutemen whose duty is to make sure no one family get’s too unruly. The Police of the trust, if you will. As one would imagine, things do go wrong, the minutemen are given a raw deal, and the story is mainly about revenge and retribution.
No, I wouldn’t give it marks for innovation of plot. On the other hand, how Azzarello weaves the story through 100 editions is remarkable. The first issue gives us Dizzy Cordova, a young, African-American woman who has just been released from jail, and who is still mourning the death of her partner and son which occurred while she was incarcerated. On the bus back home, she meets Mr. Graves who gives her an attache seemingly containing irrefutable proof of the murder of her loved ones, the identity of the murderers, and a gun with 100 untraceable bullets.
That’s the tone set up in the first few pages, and the duo of Azzarello-Lisso do a pretty remarkbale job for the next 2400 odd pages. The comics were published by Vertigo, the “mature” publication section of DC, over a period of 10 years, ending in 2009. Let’s just say I am lucky not to have to waited for each edition every month; I would’ve gnawed at some wood. The settings are as varied from Chicago, Mexico, Philly, NYC and also Rome. One can also hear some of the slang used by African-Americans; watching The Wire did help me quite a bit, I am happy to say. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the series, and will like to get my hand on some more Azzarello some day.