Last week the last collected edition (#13) of _100 Bullets_ arrived. So I started back at the beginning and read all the way through.
This is not a shiny, happy story. To give you an idea, if you look at the Wikipedia page “listing the main characters”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_characters_in_100_Bullets, there are only three who are not at least presumed deceased, and of the ones who are marked indeterminate, I, personally, would only consider one of those to be truly likely.
Even though stories like that usually aren’t to my taste, I found it a compulsive page-turner. It starts off as if it’s going to be a too-clever sort of a morality play repeated ad-infinitum, and just when you think it’s not worth proceeding, you’re shown that there’s a lot more going on than you realize.
Azarello’s scripting is tight–nothing is wasted, with what seems to be throwaway background action in one arc becoming part of the foreground in another–and his feel for how real people speak never rang false for me. The characters are posessed of their own idiosyncracies, feeling true and in some cases worthy of compassion. And Azarello’s not afraid to surprise you–something that I’m sure was made easier by having a well-defined end-point in mind when he started.
Risso’s art is the bomb. Having the same artist for the entire run is helpful because it gives the characters a sense of more concrete identity–even during flashbacks or after dramatic personal changes, they remain easily recognized. And his economy of line is brilliant–it is as if Frank Miller had taken his best approach to fine line-art (from _Elektra Lives Again_ or thereabouts) and then continued down that path, creating a vocabulary that is expressive, compelling, and versatile.
Definitely worth a read.