Friday, November 23, 2012

100 Bullets Vol. 7 Samurai Trade Paperback Review

100 Bullets Vol. 7 - Samurai
DC Comics - Vertigo
Softcover Trade Paperback
168 pages
$12.95 (2004)
$49.99 (2012) Deluxe Edition Hardcover Vol. 3
ISBN 9781401201890

Contributors: Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Dave Johnson, Clem Robins, Trish Mulvihill, and Zylonol Studios

Reprints: 100 Bullets #43-49

Synopsis: A secret organization called The Trust rules from the shadows and using a group called the Minutemen to maintain the balance of power within their ranks.  Then the Minutemen and their boss Agent Graves were targeted for assassination.  They survived, but went underground and Graves is slowly massing his forces to get revenge on The Trust.  He tests people with a briefcase filled with an untraceable gun, one hundred untraceable bullets, evidence of the person who ruined their life, and the promise they will be able to use the weapon with impunity from law enforcement.  Some have passed his test while others have failed or died under the pressure.
Do you think Lono's cellmate is sleeping?

Chill in the Oven - Loop is doing time in prison after getting picked up for murder.  He's toughened up on the inside and learned to survive among the hardcore criminal cliques.  Problem is he accidentally broke the #2 toughest inmate's larynx and sent him to the infirmary.  Once Nine Train gets back into population he's going to snuff Loop with a vengeance.  Loop's no dummy and he's become buds with the #1 toughest guy by tutoring him despite the guy being the head neo-Nazi in the joint.

Adding gasoline to the fire is the newest inmate who's a familiar face to Loop - Lono, the toughest and meanest loose cannon inside or outside of the penitentiary.  Lono killed Loop's cousin and the two have history.  Not only is Lono gunning for Loop, but the crooked head guard Dirtz wants payback from Loop for making him look bad.  Now it's going to take more than fast-talking and luck to survive the world of hurt barreling down the road.  Can Loop survive or will he become another statistic?

Mikey and Jack get pulled over
In Stinked - Jack is a heroin addict who was visited by Graves and received a suitcase.  Nothing in his life has changed and he's still chasing the dragon on an ever-quickening downward spiral.  He hooks up with another junkie named Mikey and they visit Mikey's cousin Garvey who has a roadside exotic animal park.  Garvey is crooked as they come and sells the animals for sport on the side.  Jack finds an intoxicating kinship with the caged tigers, but Garvey has sold them to a group of gangsters for fur rugs.  Jack has nothing to lose - will he throw away his life to save the tigers with the gun Agent Graves gave him?

Pros: Resurgence of some great characters from earlier story arcs, excellent plot and writing by Azzarello, Risso's art is always solid, nice covers by Johnson, excellent story pacing, definitely a page-turner, Lono

Cons: Azzarello's dialogue has a few duds - where he's either trying too hard to be noir or drops in some puns, Lono

Mike Tells It Straight: Another fine installment of 100 Bullets brings back some old characters like Loop (from Vol. 3 Hang Up on the Hang Low) and smackhead Jack (from Vol. 4 A Foregone Tomorrow).  Loop's story is a nail-biter as he's up against a rock, a hard place, and a shiv in the back.  Not a whole lot of conspiracy theory in these stories, but pretty intense prison drama and off-beat crime noir.  Jack's story was good and I didn't know what to expect.  He's not a particularly likable character due to being a worthless junkie, but he starts to grow on you.

Don't ever play chicken with a caged
tiger.  They like to eat chicken
Azzarello's writing is great - excellent pacing and plot twists.  Seems his only weakness is dialogue and this volume has a few minor gaffs where it feels like he's trying too hard.  Risso's art is top notch and he's a wonderful visual storyteller.  Johnson's covers keep improving and capture the noir feel of the book.  

The usual disclaimer - this is the seventh volume in a series and readers must be familiar with the previous volumes to fully understand the stories.  Good follow up to the last collection (Vol. 6 Six Feet Under the Gun) which was six self-contained stories.  My only gripe is the plot doesn't really advance much, but the chess pieces are being moved around the board.  Damn entertaining and looking forward to the next volume.

TO BUY and Recommendations: