Thursday, July 25, 2013

100 Bullets Vol. 9 Strychnine Lives Trade Paperback Review

100 Bullets Vol. 9 - Strychnine Lives
DC Comics - Vertigo
224 pages
$19.99 (2006) Trade Paperback
$49.99 (2013) Deluxe Edition Hardcover Vol. 4
ISBN 9781401209285

Contributors: Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Patricia Mulvihill, Clem Robins, and covers by Dave Johnson

Reprints: 100 Bullets #59-67

Synopsis: A secret group called The Trust has ruled from the shadows for centuries and is made up of thirteen powerful families.  They employed a special team called the Minutemen to maintain order among the families and to swiftly punish any internal fighting.  Then The Trust betrayed the Minutemen and tried to have them destroyed, but they disappeared along with their leader Agent Graves.  Now Graves is back and recalling the Minutemen in order to exact revenge on The Trust.

Benito and Megan Dietrich walk and talk
The Calm - Loop and Lono are out of prison and rolling hard.  Two former enemies, the pair are now teamed up at the request of the late Shepard.  They stop in Chicago to pick up another former Minuteman named Victor.  He's making time with the lovely wife of a neighbor who is planning bloody revenge.  Will the group fall headlong into a firefight?

Staring at the Son - Megan Dietrich is in town to meet with Augustus Medici, head of the Medici house and currently trying to unify The Trust under one house - his.  Megan is the head of her house and knows Augustus' son, Benito.  He's a former party-boy, rich kid who lived to bother his dad by misbehaving.  Benito has turned over a new leaf after a failed assassination attempt and wants to join the family business, but Augustus has some reservations.  Meanwhile Mr. Branch, a former reporter who uncovered The Trust and is an exile in Paris, comes to meet with Megan.  Also in town are Graves and restored Minuteman, Cole Burns.

Staying at the same hotel are Spain, his lawyer, and chihuahua Cookie.  Spain looks like a bad mutha and gets a bellhop named Tino to score some dope for him.  Tino gets it from his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend - a nasty drug-dealer named Bosco.  Tino is pissed because he has a kid with the girl, but figures Spain will tip him really well.  Tino and Spain end up painting the town and run into Bosco.  Fireworks fly when two badasses butt heads.  What happens when Branch suddenly gets a visit from Cole?  Will Megan side with Augustus even though it means her house becomes second-tier?
Spain is one badass muthafucka!
The Dive - Graves pays a visit to Jack who has become a street fighter waiting for the final fight to put him out of his misery.  Jack wants to give him back the case with the untraceable gun and one hundred bullets, but Graves won't take it.  He calls Jack out on trying to fool himself.  Will Jack grow a spine and put Graves in his place?

New Tricks - Lono tortures one of the people responsible for the assassination attempt on Augustus Medici.  Loop and Victor get to know each other while they hang out at a strip joint before a job.  What does Augustus want with Lono in light of the plan to unify The Trust?  How does Megan Dietrich figure into the scheme?
Loop stakes out Megan Dietrich

Love Let Her - Branch heads down to New Mexico to find Dizzy after Shepard's death.  He's not the only one as several more players converge on the same town.  Benito is there throwing money around to find her as well.  Wiley and Dizzy are both confused and wracked with guilt over what happened to Shepard.  Which side will they choose?

Pros: Great art by Risso, interesting covers by Johnson, Azzarello's writing is solid (no excessive amount of goofy puns), nice set of crime noir stories, cool side story and characters with Spain/Tino/Bosco, Lono is a cunningly evil bastard

Cons: Deep into the book's overall plot and not new-reader friendly at all, story with Jack and Graves was kind of lame and unrealistic (on Jack's part)

Mike Tells It Straight: This ninth volume of 100 Bullets keeps the story rolling and throws a few more curveballs at us.  Seems like the Minutemen are amassing, but the outcome of a final confrontation is totally uncertain.  What is Graves game?  I'm totally confused yet excited for the next installment.  Both writing and art are completely in sync in this volume.  Thankfully Azzarello lays off using too many puns to make the book sound more noir.  Spain was a hilarious character - he looked like Mickey Rourke with his wrinkled, leathery skin on top of tight muscles.  He's hell on wheels and gets Tino into all sorts of trouble.  The end of that particular story was a surprise!
Lono tortures some poor sucker

The usual disclaimer applies - this is the ninth volume of a series and readers should have some knowledge of the previous stories/characters in order to fully comprehend events.  A lot of old characters show up and interact with each other, but new readers will totally miss the significance.  The plot continues to progress with a few major twists and I'll definitely say the series is great if you like the crime noir genre.  This book is a solid entry in the series - maybe not the best due to the numerous storylines, but I've come too far to turn back and am looking forward to the next chapter!

TO BUY and Recommendations: