Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review--100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call

(Cover Art by Dave Johnson, aka "Devil Pig")

The Set-Up:

Imagine you've been devastated by a personal catastrophic event. 

Years later, you're still trying to pick up the shattered remains of your life.

Now suppose, a man in a black suit approaches you with a briefcase, and an offer.  The case contains a semi-automatic handgun, 100 rounds of ammunition, and a dossier of the person, or persons, he wants you to kill.

Even though he assures you that the weapon and ammunition are untraceable, and that you'd be immune to prosecution, you still feel squeamish about doing someone else's dirty work.

But then the man-in-black then tells you that this "person-of-interest" is the individual responsible for ruining your life.


Would you take the offer?

The Synopsis:

This is the tantalizing premise of 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call

(Note:  All Wikipedia entries contain some plot spoilers).

But first...

A "Warning Shot" to Readers:

100 Bullets First Shot, Last Call is not a "family-friendly" series.  While there's no explicit sex scenes, the novel doesn't pull any punches depicting the harsh realities of street-life:  Prostitution, substance abuse, and of course all levels of violence are depicted in such sleazy settings as crack-houses, strip joints, rundown bars and abandoned buildings.

In the introductory story, Isabelle ("Dizzy") Cordova is approached by a man who calls himself Mr. Graves...

...and offers her a chance to kill the two crooked cops who killed her ex-gangbanger husband and infant son in a drive-by shooting.  A crime for which she was implicated in, and sent to prison for. 

In the second tale, Mr. Graves makes a similar offer to Lee Dolan.

This time, the target is the woman who framed Lee, a former restaurateur, for peddling child pornography.

As you can probably guess, giving a weapon and plenty of ammo to someone with a serious grudge, will lure them down the path of vengeance.

And herein lies some catches:

The path of vengeance is not a straight course, as complications, doubts and even temptations arise. 
But more importantly, seeking revenge comes at a price. 

Even when vengeance is obtained--not everyone can pay the cost.

(Image by: "Devil Pig")

Availability and Ratings:

Published 15 years ago, 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call is still available on Amazon.com, where it obtained a 4-star average rating (21 x 5-stars, 20 x 4-stars, 10 x 3-stars, 3 x 2-stars and 1 x 1-star).

Just about everyone agreed that 100 Bullets is a great concept, but the 3 & 4-star raters felt the story missed the target in one, or several ways, such as:  stereotyped characters, contrived "street lingo," dialogue, while the revenge-based plot device was became rapidly repetitive.  The 2 & 1-star raters weren't impressed at all and thought the series was overrated.
I thought the book was 5-star awesome.  Both the artwork and narrative were on-target for a modern-noir story.
A stellar review was posted five years ago on Unobtanium 13, while my comic book aficionado co-worker, Ed, had this to say: 

That. Was. Outstanding!

Not Out of Ammo Yet:

100 Bullets First Shot, Last Call, is a compilation of the initial five 100 Bullets comic books, which ran for--yup--100 issues
The series scooped-up an ensemble cast of characters, along with numerous awards.  Afterwards, the comics were all compiled into 13 graphic novels, which just happens to be a significant number for the shadowy cartel known as "The Trust."

A series this long though, is fully-loaded with tropes, and even has it's own 39-page wiki.

(Image by "Devil Pig")

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