The 100 Bullets series has grown on me over the last three months.
At first I didn’t like it: the ethnic dialogue seemed a little too self-conscious, the story too lazy. (Oh no, not another conspiracy plot.) But after three re-reads of the series to date, I’ve started to get deeply into it. I was missing the important bit. You don’t read ‘Bullets’ for the dialogue (like ‘Preacher’) or the writing (‘Transmetropolitan’) or even the macrographic majesty of the plot (like ‘Sandman’.) You read 100 Bullets for Eduardo Risso’s incredibly well-realised art: specifically, how he draws people.
Every character in ‘Bullets’ is a real person, with a different body type bred from a different lifestyle and upbringing. South Side Chicago girls are sassy and posturing just like real Hispanics, but in a different way to the Blacks. Fat people are fat in different ways: the soft bulginess of an obese gay gangster, the hardened grizzle of a hack journalist, the opulent solidity of a well-fed rich man. The Minutemen draw characteristics from their flesh: Lono glorying in his massively muscled frame, Jack Daw self-destructive because of a different response to the same physical superiority. Wylie small but darting-eyed sharp thanks to agility, Cole Burns intelligent and self-assured. They all look different, and characters express themselves as complete human beings instead of just faces, just like real life.
Now it’s in its last trimester (there’ll be 100 issues in total) all the threads of various story arcs are starting to merge. We’ve met all the Minutemen – the trained killers that keep the real owners of America in check – so of course there’s only one question left: in the pumped-up, over-the-top physicality of the comics world, which Minuteman would you be?
Well, I’m not Lono. The Minutemen aren’t exactly good eggs, but Lono’s downright evil: a rapist twice to date and a three-time torturer. Also the physically largest, he’s a formidable presence even in the comics world, and my physicality’s more of an athletic bent than a circus strongman. Not Lono.
I’m not Jack Daw either. A vast man like Lono, the Saint’s been weak enough in the past to give in to the lure of the needle. I don’t have an addictive personality, so I can’t be Jack, even though he’s one of the toughest mofos in comics.
Victor was a possibility. One of the more normal Minutemen – with fewer obvious psycho tendencies, and big but not on the scale of Lono or Jack – Victor doesn’t sit on fences and openly takes sides. But I’m discounting The Rain for those same reasons: he’s not enough of a character, not enough depth to be an individual. Not Victor.
And I’m not Remi Rome either. Remi’s the blue-collar Minuteman, sense of family and brotherly love. Not a bad guy, just from a different social class to me.
I’m not Milo, although I admire the guy. Physically capable and a hit with the ladies (scoring two of a possible three in the space of one story arc) he’s strong enough to make a genuine choice when the past comes rushing back out of hypnotic prison, and is free of that worst of traits, self-pity. A good guy, but not me.
I was almost Wylie though. Intellectually adept and sharp as a razor, he starts off ‘coasting’ through life and worries about what he really wants from it: a lot like me at the moment. Not sure why but he doesn’t quite feel right. If I were a Minutemen, I’d almost be the Pointman, but not quite.
No, I knew from the first frame he appeared that I’d be Cole. Cole’s probably the smartest one. Living on the edge of what’s permissible according to the Minutemen’s code, Cole’s got style and a sense of the depth of life. Even tells a nobody journalist the ultimate secret – the full story of the Trust and the Greatest Crime in History, just to fuck with him. Cole always orders the same drink, is always composed and assured.
We also have broadly similar haircuts.