100 Bullets (1999-2009)

This is the most fucked up shit I read in a long time. 100 Bullets is like one of those giganormous family sagas that take ages to read. It’s meticulous in its attention to detail, highly annoying in its tendency to never say anything outright and extremely consequent when it comes to carry a theme from the first to the last issue. But, and that’s the thing that really gets to me, while it has a theme, I doesn’t really have a point.

The violence, the one common element that every subplot, every longer arc and the entire megaplot comes back to again and again, is a choice we inflict on ourselves and others. But while the series never presents violence merely like a fun action adventure as so many comics, videogames and movies do, it still floods you with it issue after issue until you really wonder whether it’s anti-violence stance is really just a cover, another layer (and Azzarello is pretty good with layers inside layers here) to hide another very well done violence-porn. In that sense, reading the series makes you feel dirty after some time.

Yes, the violence is ugly and makes everyone miserable, but the series, if you play by its rules and use the 100 bullets analogy, doesn’t offer the reader the choice any of the characters get offered. All we get is violence and more violence, but never the possibility of anything else. In the end, as a series that tries for one big morality play, it turns out the series has no morale of its own. It ends with no explanation, it doesn’t take any stance at all. It’s a cold observation of violence playing out, the Fall of the House of Usher set in complex, modern crime setting that is very well crafted, but hollow inside.