Saturday, May 19, 2012

100 Bullets Vol. 3 Hang Up on the Hang Low Trade Paperback Review

100 Bullets Vol. 3 - Hang Up on the Hang Low
DC Comics - Vertigo
Softcover Trade Paperback
128 pages
$14.99 (2001)
ISBN 9781563898556

Contributors: Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Clem Robins, Trish Mulvihill, Digital Chameleon, and covers by Dave Johnson

Reprints: 100 Bullets #15-19

Synopsis: Loop is a wannabe gangsta always getting into trouble.  His father skipped out on his mom when he was a baby and Loop never knew him.  One night Agent Graves shows up and gives Loop a briefcase containing one untraceable gun, 100 untraceable bullets, information on his father, and the guarantee he will not be prosecuted by the law.  

Naturally Loop looks up his deadbeat dad and puts the gun in his face.  Well, Curtis Hughes ain't no pushover.  He's a mob enforcer with a mysterious past connected to Graves.  That can't be good for Loop who gets his ass handed to him by his old man.

The two strike up a tentative relationship as Curtis brings Loop along on his jobs to teach him how to make it as a gangster.  Loop is a hot-blooded youngster quick to draw his gun and his old man teaches him to even his temper. 

Just as the pair are finally beginning to reconcile events take a nasty turn.  A routine job goes sideways leaving Curtis to choose between his newly established bond with his son and the loyalty for his mob boss.  Will he choose blood or self-preservation?  You just know there won't be a happy ending. 

Pros: One single storyline in this volume, Risso's art continues to be top notch - feels kinetic and urban, Azzarello's plot and writing are near perfect - the gangsta talk actually sounds okay, Johnson's covers continue to be solid, this story won an Eisner award in 2001 for Best Serialized Story - now that's impressive!

Cons: Somewhat unrealistic in several parts (but reminded me of a good pulp action flick), readers need to be familiar with previous volumes to understand the full story (although somewhat standalone)

Mike Tells It Straight: This series keeps getting better with each successive collection.  It really helped to have one single coherent story in this volume and an Eisner award winner to boot.  Azzarello and Risso craft a gut-wrenching crime noir tale within the conspiracy theory of Agent Graves' briefcase test.

This book can almost be read standalone, but new readers will only get about 90% of the story - continuing readers with the first two volumes under their belts will be treated to a nice layering of converging sub-plots.  A lot of skill went into this story by both creators.

The characters are basically urban crime caricatures (this is comics after all and caricatures are essential in a visual medium), but you can instantly identify with them and Azzarello builds from there.  I really disliked Loop's character at first, but by the end of the book he made a complete turnaround (kind of like Dizzy Cordova from the first volume).  If you read the first two volumes and were on the fence then this storyline will pull you back in.

TO BUY and Recommendations: