The more I think about it, the less I have to say.
100 Bullets is really a series that speaks for itself. The craft and love that went into it shows on every page. You’ve got a ton of fully-realized characters, a mega-arc that gives up amazing chances for discussion and speculation, and a concept that could go on forever.
The main reason why I just did five days straight of images is because I know that fans of the series, those who stuck with it and came out on top, are gonna get it. You see “Jungle or zoo?” and know what it says about Jack’s life. You can look at a single panel of Remi Rome and see his try-hard swagger. You see “Pun. First syllable a PUN-ish-ment,” and think back to how Loop went from a boy to a man, and ended up smarter than anyone else expected.
The thing about being a comics reader is that you come to expect a certain kind of storytelling. X-Men, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, all of those feature characters, but aren’t really about the characters. They are corporate icons, mascots, and on some kid’s underwear. They can’t change too much, so all of the bang of the characters has to come from action. It’s Frank Castle putting on some superhero gear, holding a gun, and saying something out of an action movie. It’s Hal Jordan once again proving that he’s the prettiest princess on the block by overcoming everything and everyone. And, at the end of the issue, everything is back to normal.
100 Bullets is a story about the characters. It’s money shots aren’t all tied up in explosions, headshots, and fist fights. Those are there, of course, and they are good, but the real bang comes from the characters. It’s Wylie and Dizzy reminiscing over lost loves together, the look in a man’s eyes as he sees his brother for the last time, or the quiet respect that everyone has for Mr. Hughes. It’s the quiet goodbye a man gives to his family before he goes off to do some dirty work, and a peck on the forehead that tells you all you need to know about him and his viewpoint on life.
The Trust, the attache, the mega-arc, all of that is wonderful, but for me, the real joy in 100 Bullets is about the characters. It’s about how they bounce off one another and figuring out what they’re thinking. It’s about who, not what.
I discovered 100 Bullets shortly after I got back into comics, and month-in, month-out, it has been heads and shoulders above every other comic that I’ve read. The weakest issues or arcs are only weak by the high standard set by the others. Risso, Azz, and Mulvihill blew me away for six years straight, and have me looking at other comics now with a jaded eye.
Blackest Night and Dark Reign are boring to me. After the deep-seated menace of Lono and his inability to tell right from wrong, Norman Osborn’s Snidely Whiplash antics are cheap and hollow. After reading about Remi Rome being the most cocksure, try-hard, desperate to please young kid on the block, Hal Jordan is a caricature of somebody’s grandpa’s idea of a superhero.
I can’t take all these stories about how Soandso Lass and Generigal are strong female characters and wonderful and et cetera, because they aren’t. They’re stupid, hollow, and empty. The black characters, too. Luke Cage leads the Avengers now? De-evolve, thug, crawl back in the ocean. Loop and Curtis Hughes, Dizzy Cordova, and Megan Dietrich are characters that you can appreciate without having to go, “Well, they’re great, except for…”
You want your strong, fully realized, and respectful characters of whatever race, creed, or sexuality? 100 Bullets has your black dudes, latinas, old white dudes, Russians, whatever.
That’s where 100 Bullets wins. Even with all of the insane acrobatics, intrigues, and unkillable villains, 100 Bullets is real. It gives you characters who you can believe in, characters who seem like people you could actually know, and put them into situations that only make them more interesting. It’s a book that challenges you with its story and forces you to care about the people you’re reading about.
I had six years of glimpses in on these characters that I’ve grown to love. Its quiet moments are just as loud as the bits where someone is being murdered. I’m going to miss it.