Monday, September 21, 2009

Joker, 100 Bullets & Azarello vs. Miller

So I picked up Joker by Brian Azzarello &Lee Bermajo at Half Price Books for like $9.

I devoured it immediately.

First, the artwork by Bermajo is just some of the best work I have ever seen.

I could put the story aside entirely and spend hours going through the book, just staring at the pictures. Look at the Joker's mouth on the cover art. It's scary as hell.

I had never read anything of Azzarello's before, but I had heard good things about 100 Bullets.

I don't think I had gotten more than four or five pages into Joker before I decided that I was going to buy every issue or graphic novel of 100 Bullets I could get my hands on.

Azzarello has that fundamental skill that so many writers are lacking. He knows how to tell a story and even better than that, he can give us characters that are rich and surprising.

And offering the reader any kind of a surprise when you're working with characters that we've all known for decades from other comics, graphic novels, TV shows, movies and even music is especially challenging.

When Joker opens up, our favorite comic book sociopath has just been inexplicably released from Arkham Asylum.

The book never explains why he was let out and, for what the focus of the story is, it doesn't matter.

Azzarello seems to understand that here, it would be unnecessary exposition.

What follows is just an insane ride seen through the eyes of one of the Joker's wannabe goons. Our bumbling protagonist, like us, doesn't know where he's going.

We're all of us just following the Joker out of loyalty, thrill-seeking or just curiosity to see what the crazy bastard is going to do next, who knows?

Suffice it to say that it's worth seeking out and it's worth shelling out the sticker price. This ranks up there with the great graphic novels and, in my humble opinion, beats the hell out of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
Although when the Joker takes aim at Batman in The Dark Knight Returns and simply mutters the word, 'darling' under his breath before he fires still stands as possibly my favorite comic book moment ever.
Now, it was on to 100 Bullets.

Quick run down of the premise.

Somebody is wronged and a mystery man appears, offering a gun, evidence against whoever fucked them over, 100 bullets and a guarantee of impunity should they opt for revenge.

A friend at work, (hi, Jennifer!) was kind enough to loan me the first of the graphic novels, First Shot, Last Call, which contains two stories.

In the first, a woman is released from prison and on her way home to an empty house since her husband and son were killed during her incarceration.

And the rest of the story is her coming to grips with what happened and deciding whether or not to take advantage of the generous offer of revenge that has been offered to her on a silver platter.

The second story revolves around a bartender who has lost his entire life because he was framed as a pedophile.

Again, he is offered evidence as to who set him up along with a gun, some ammo and a promise of absolution.

The two heroes/anti-heroes take different paths with alternately exhilerating and devastating results.

And now, I have to read every other 100 Bullets comic/graphic novel out there.

I hereby declare Azzarallo to be the shit.
And in case you care, I'm listening to:

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