Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Guy, Old Question

For starters, I'm not sure if I'm the third guy buying comics around here or if I'm just a supporting character. I remember when the Bradfords had a baby, my uncle just couldn't accept the fact the show wasn't retitled "Nine is Enough," but I can understand that with all the name branding Chris has done to make "2 Guys Buying Comics" one of the top 8000 comic blogs out there, changing names now would just put us back at square one.

For my first official review, I decided to go backward and address a question Chris raised in a bullet pointed list: Should I read 100 Bullets?

Years ago, I heard all about the "Joe Dimaggio" issue of 100 Bullets (I added the quotes because Dimaggio is never actually called by name) and was strongly encouraged to start reading it. Three years later--around a month ago--I finally broke down and purchased the first two trades.

The first collection proved to be exactly what I expected. Mysterious Agent Graves gives someone a gun with 100 untraceable bullets and evidence of who ruined her life. She struggles with the moral implications of being effectively licensed to kill. Further investigation reveals there is more to the incident that ruined her life than at first meets the eye. People get shot. The end. Next story: guy gets same deal with the gun and the bullets, but when faced with the chance to kill the person who ruined him, he blows it and winds up on the wrong end of the untraceable gun.

Pretty straight forward. Then I read the second trade, where we get our first run in with Lono and a mysterious conversation about the Minutemen and the Trust. The Trust--and Lono--think the Minutemen are dead, but Graves explains the Minutemen always exist because if one dies, someone else replaces him. This is the purpose of the 100 bullet and untraceable gun, to test potential future Minutemen. Still, the conversation makes perfect sense going back and reading it now after digesting another 50 issues, but at the time it comes across like reading the script to a midseason episode of Carnivale (which somehow implies the beginning and end episodes of Carnivale made sense, but I digress...), which is to say utter gibberish that won't pay off for issues and issues to come.

When we finally meet Cole, an ice cream man and petty thief given the same 100 bullets/untraceable gun deal by Agent Graves things begin to take off. Cole seemingly blows the deal and is about to be killed when a trigger word uttered by a homeless man brings back a flood of memories. Cole is a Minuteman who's had some kind of brainwashing or memory wipe to hide him from the Trust. He slaughters everyone and goes to meet Agent Graves ready to pick up where they left off.

The next fifty issues tell us a little more about the Trust and a little more about the Minutemen. We track down more amnesiac Minutemen, bodies pile up, the Trust gets nervous, and Shepherd can't be trusted or maybe he can but maybe he can't unless he can. There are a few very well done moments like when Lono realizes he inadvertently killed his best friend, Wylie's memory of what he hoped to forget with his mindwipe, the aforementioned "Dimaggio" story, and the tale of Roanoke where we get more background on the Trust and the Minutemen than in the other 57 issues combined.

So back to the question: Should I read 100 Bullets?

I guess it depends on what you're asking. As phrased, yes, you should read it. However, while I've truly enjoyed 100 Bullets, even reading all 58 issues over the course of a few weeks, I've lost track of characters (Is Cole "The Wolf?" Which Minuteman is "The Bastard?" Who did Grave intend for Loop to replace?) and plotlines. I can't imagine reading one issue per month for the last five years and having any of it make sense without constant back referencing. More than once I've considered creating a flow chart of some sort or maybe a cast of characters list like the one they put in the back of Walking Dead to keep track of who's dead and who's alive and what role they play/played.

I'd like to start picking up the issues from now on, but think I may be better off sticking with the trades. If I do start buying individual issues, I'll likely let them accumulate until I have 4-5 and can read them all in one sitting.


Blogger kelvingreen said...

I don't much like the comic, but I do like the clever way they've numbered and yet not numbered the trade collections.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cole's the Wolf - Milo was the Bastard, and Loop is his replacement(I think).

3:57 PM  
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