Tuesday, October 1, 2013

100 Bullets Vol. 11 Once Upon A Crime Trade Paperback Review

100 Bullets Vol. 11 - Once Upon A Crime
DC Comics - Vertigo
190 pages
$12.99 (2007) Trade Paperback
$49.99 (2013) Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 4
$49.99 (2013) Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 5
ISBN 9781401213152

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

Reprints: 100 Bullets #76-83

Synopsis: A secret group called The Trust has ruled from the shadows ever since the founding of the New World.  They are made up of thirteen powerful families and employed a special team, called the Minutemen, to maintain order among the families.  Any members who get out of line through vicious in-fighting get swiftly and summarily dealt with by the Minutemen.  Until The Trust betrayed and tried to have them destroyed.  It didn't stick and they disappeared along with their leader, Agent Graves.  He has returned with a relentless agenda to restore the Minutemen and wipe out The Trust.  He is known for testing people by giving them a briefcase containing one hundred untraceable bullets, an untraceable handgun, evidence of the person who has ruined the briefcase recipient's life, and a guarantee no investigation will happen.  The rest is up to them.

Wylie contemplates his next move with Dizzy
Punch Line - Lono and his crew of Victor Ray, Jack Daw, and Loop Hughes enjoy some short-lived downtime.  Graves is anxious to reactivate and acquire all of the Minutemen still out in the cold so he can prepare for the final confrontation with The Trust.  He has Cole Burns and the recently returned Remi Rome in his corner, but needs to pick up Wylie Times and Dizzy Cordova.  These two are hiding out in Mexico with former journalist, Mr. Branch, and Benito Medici, Augustus Medici's son.

We get another flashback to the end of the Minutemen in Atlantic City and who they were before the reset button got pushed.  Now these two groups of deadly killers are headed for an inevitable showdown.  Wylie is quite possibly the deadliest Minuteman and he's decided to stop playing the game.  Will Graves let him and Dizzy go after investing so much time in them?  A traitor is revealed and the bullets fly, but who will survive?

A Split Decision - In the aftermath of the showdown Graves tries to pick up the pieces and get his plan back on track.  Lono recovers Benito and tries to figure out why he survived.  Dizzy assumes her new role and the wheels start turning on the final act.
Branch and Benito bet on cock-fighting

Tarantula - Ronnie Rome is in Italy trying to recover the stolen painting from Echo Memoria.  She's a beautiful and confusing woman.  Poor Ronnie doesn't know which way is up as he falls into a complicated trap.  Does Echo even have the painting?  Ronnie runs into another guy named Claudio who says he bought the painting from Echo, but is he telling the truth?  It's a Roman holiday and Ronnie is caught in the middle.  Can he figure it out before ending up dead?  We also learn Shepard's origin and how Graves recruited him all those many years ago.  How a white kid with enough game at street ball almost made it, but ended up working for Graves' spookshow.

Pros: Azzarello's writing is complex and suspenseful, big events and secrets revealed in this volume, Risso's art is better than ever, great covers by Johnson, keeps us guessing

Cons: Absolutely not new-reader friendly, plot can be a bit confusing (guess it makes the reader think and pay more attention), the events in this volume pissed me off

Mike Tells It Straight: The crime noir opus of Azzarello and Risso continues with this 11th volume.  I can honestly say this volume pissed me off incredibly, but I grudgingly admit to enjoying it nonetheless.  If you've come this far into the series then you'll know exactly what I mean.  The showdown between Lono's crew and Wylie's band is a major plot twist.  It had me reeling for days and I read the Italian caper starring Ronnie Rome in a daze afterwards.  Can't say I liked the story with Ronnie and Echo, but I enjoyed Shepard's origin which included an unexpected bit of information.

Ronnie searches for Echo and the painting in Italy
100 Bullets is a great series and this volume brings us closer to the inevitable conclusion.  Much credit to the creators for making me care so much about the characters and being torn up when they eventually reach their fateful ends.  New readers must start at the beginning of this series to fully appreciate the stories/characters.  I got hooked after the first few volumes and now it seems like a lifetime has passed until the ending.  The characters truly feel alive and have progressed throughout the series.  Only two more volumes until the end and it's going to be messy!

TO BUY and Recommendations: