Review – 100 Bullets : First Shot, Last Call

Written by – Brian Azzarello

Art by – Eduardo Risso

Colour by – Grant Goleash

Published by – Vertigo

‘If a stranger offered you a chance to get away with murder …. Would you take it?’

First Shot, Last Call collects together the first five issues of Brian Azzarello’s hard hitting crime thriller 100 Bullets. The premise of the central story is simple – Imagine that you are a victim of a terrible wrong, a stranger offers you a brief case with a gun and a hundred bullets that are all untraceable, cart blanche on any action undertaken and a guarantee that you would escape prosecution – would you extract your revenge? The premise may be simple but the stories are anything but simple, so prepare to have your moral compass twisted in all different directions. Welcome to 100 Bullets.

The first three issues are simply entitled 100 Bullets, the story revolves around Dizzy Cordova, a young woman who freshly released from prison is approached by the mysterious Agent Graves and given an attaché case which contains the proof and the means to avenge her murdered family. Dizzy is wracked by guilt for not being around when her husband and child and were viciously gunned down in a gang land drive by shooting, but is everything as it seems? This story provides no easy answers for Dizzy or the reader, the characters dialogue can some times be impenetrable as through Dizzy you are thrust right into the heart of inner city gang life. I found that panels need to be read twice or even more to get a handle on the story due to the use of street talk. Be prepared for plenty of revelations and a hugely satisfying twist at the end of these three issues. Whilst reading through the first part of this book I was immediately reminded of The Wire both in the tone of the story telling and the use of language, it is amazing to think that the dialogue was written by a white middle aged man.

The second story – Shot, Water Back is perhaps the strongest of the two in this collection. Here, a down and out bartender Lee Dolan is offered his chance at revenge by Agent Graves. Dolan is a former successful restaurateur whose life has been ruined after a conviction for child pornography. With the evidence provided from Graves, Dolan is led to the person who set him up but will he extract his revenge or will be tempted by an offer of a pay off and a way to get his former life back? This story is great, you really get a feel for the characters involved and even though it’s only two issues you get a palpable sense of Dolan’s shitty life coupled with his despair at being separated from his family.  The ending of Shot, Water Black is starkly violent and much more affecting than the previous story and Azzarello also manages to convey a great sense of something bigger going on without being very specific.

The art by Eduardo Risso is perfect for these stories the use of shadow and the muted tone of the colours provide a very noir feel to the book and although the art work can sometimes looks quite simple it is highly effective. Also worth a mention are the covers by Dave Johnson which have a real old school cinema poster quality to them and in which Dizzy looks extremely foxy.

Overall I really enjoyed this first volume although the first story can be little difficult to get to grips with it’s worth persevering with as things pick up considerably in the second story. A good start to series which according to other reviews I’ve read only gets better.

 GS Rating – 4/5

GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts – @nickroberts101

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