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CompleteMartialArts.com - 100 Bullets Vol. 9: Strychnine Lives

100 Bullets Vol. 9: Strychnine Lives
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Manufacturer: Vertigo
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 741
EAN: 9781401209285
ISBN: 1401209289
Label: Vertigo
Manufacturer: Vertigo
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 224
Publication Date: 2006-04-26
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: 2006-04-26
Studio: Vertigo

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Editorial Reviews:

In the ninth collection of the Eisner Award-winning series, the mysterious Agent Graves offers 100 bullets and immunity to everyday people to carry out their innermost desires of vengeance. More pieces of the mystery of the Minutemen and the organization that created them start to come together.With the Houses of the Trust warily circling one another, the remaining Minutemen continue to pick their sides and set their own battle plans.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Graphic SF Reader
Comment: Anyone want to be a crimelord? 100 Bullets may well give you second thoughts. And third thoughts. Lots of money, lots of power, lots of girls/boys/booze/cars or whatever other things you might like. Also, lots of stress, heartache, and lots of loss of integrity of the physical being via the murderous actions of others.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Genius.
Comment: Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets: Strychnine Lives (Vertigo, 2006)

It took seven and a half months from the time I put this on hold at the library until the time it showed up in my hot little hands. Seven and a half months of waiting after the best volume in the ever-improving series. Seven and a half months of wondering where Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso (and why, in nine introductions, has no one yet commented on the fact that Eduardo Risso is Frank Miller's spiritual heir?) were going to take this story.

Was it worth it? You betcha.

Lono, since Azzarello started developing his character, has always seemed to me to be the series' most intriguing guy. And in Strychnine Lives-- a book that marks that place in most series where all the political machinations and stuff have to happen, where the action fades into the background as everyone realigns for the final charge to the big battle that ends it all(TM)-- Azzarello gives us an in-depth look at Lono, who's at least a peripheral character in every tale here, and the central character in a couple. And we get to know Lono better than we ever have before. Oh, yeah, sure, there are developments in the larger story arc, as some previously disparate entities cement their alliances and a few characters we haven't seen for a while (remember Branch?) come back into play, but let's call a spade a spade-- this is a book about Lono.

Manuel Ramos, in his introduction, muses on the seeming disparity between Lono's unrepentantly violent nature and his ability to discourse on forgiveness. I don't see it as a disparity, per se; in fact, it's seemed to me since the third of fourth book that one of Azzarello's goals in creating and fleshing out the character of Lono is to give the reader something meatier than the stereotypical strongman with a heart of gold (and a head of lead). It could be argued, in fact, that Lono is the textbook sociopath, the kind who'd be stereotypical if crime writers and journalists actually read psychology textbooks and the DSM as part of their research.

Contrast him with the book's other main characters, old-timer Augustus and newcomer Spain. Spain is the psychotic, a diametric opposite of the sociopath, driven by impulse as opposed to the sociopath's cold, calculating split-second analysis of every situation. Spain's role here (aside from, given the voice-over dialogue between Lono and Augustus in Spain's crucial scene, setting something up a few books down the line-- another thing Ramos highlights about this series in his intro) is to provide a direct foil for Lono, even though the two never come into direct contact. They're both scary guys. Though we are never sure at any point that either is an out-and-out villain in this series that lacks anything even remotely resembling an actual hero, both of them are pretty low on the number line of deeds performed for the good of various and sundry. But contrasting Lono and Spain in the way he does shows us in no uncertain terms that Brian Azzarello has done a whole lot of thought on the nature of evil, and how much of "the nature of evil" is a situational, rather than a gestational, beast (one would not be at all surprised to find that Azzarello had just read Ian Brady's The Gates of Janus before conceiving this particular story arc, actually, as Lono and Spain could very easily be looked at as archetypes of Brady's dissection of the two types of serial killer).

Then there is Augustus, who would seem at first to sit in opposition to both Lono and Spain, when in fact that's an illusion; he's the same species of sociopath as is Lono. I think (with all due respect) this is the filter through which Ramos misreads the forgiveness dialogue; it's not Lono trying to convince Augustus to do something that goes contrary to Augustus' nature, it's Lono showing Augustus that what Augustus already knows in his gut is correct is, in fact, the way to go about solving a problem in front of him. In another world, Lono and Augustus would be friends, as much as sociopaths can be friends, instead of temporary allies united against (what we currently believe is) a common enemy (but 100 Bullets contains more twists and turns in the arena of who's on whose side than in any other aspect of its labyrinthine story). However, this is the unrepentantly noir world of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, where no one has friends. What they do have is a wonderful sense of self-awareness uncommon in both the world of the superhero comic and the world of noir. This is one of the things (one, mind you, along with everything mentioned above and more) that makes 100 Bullets such an astonishing, satisfying series, and one that truly improves with every issue. **** ½

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: The intrigue deepens
Comment: Honestly, if you haven't read any of the 100 Bullets story before, don't even think about beginning here. It's just not accessible at this point, but it's well-worth picking up the first couple of trades and going from there. At this point, the series is a gigantic chessboard with pieces gradually being moved into their final positions, as the end of the series begins to come into sight. As the newly appointed warlord of the Trust, Lono really dominates the issues collected here. If you haven't read the last few story arcs recently, you might want to go over them again as a refresher before starting this volume. It's complex, no doubt, but all the more rewarding for it. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this series is that it makes you actually use your brain when reading it; not everything is spoon-fed to you. Basically, if you're already a fan of this series, you probably have this book. If you're interested in picking it up, this isn't the place to start. head on over to the listing for "First Shot, Last Call," and dive in.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: It's all downhill from here...
Comment: It appears that Brian Azzarello has gotten bored with 100 Bullets. What once was a perfectly written tale of morality among the most immoral people on earth has turned into a bunch of rich people talking to each other. The series has gone from focusing on Agent Graves and the Minutemen to a group of families called "The Trust". They all hate each other, and they sure love to talk about it.

Now, dialogue-driven comics aren't inherently bad, but you have to care about the characters who are talking. With The Trust, you constantly wonder to yourself "why do I even care what these people are talking about?". It's unclear what The Trust does exactly, but it appears that they're some sort of organization that pulls all the strings for everything. The problem is, Azarrello doesn't use this to his advantage.

The series is just looking like an old dog on its last legs. Hopefully, in the next few books, Azarello can inject some life into the book and make it fun again. It's obvious that Azarello is getting lazy with the title and he is probably focusing on his acclaimed series "Loveless", but maybe he can revisit the world of 100 Bullets and give us another story we'll never forget

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