It’s dark, it’s violent—it’s a narco-corrido
100 Bullets: Brother Lono by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo, 16.99).
The 100 Bullets anthology series tends to be very dark and very violent—but that’s a given, with a title like 100 Bullets. It’s pulpy and full of people who really deserve to get one of those bullets—but it also calls into question any easy moralizing about violence to which we might be prey.
And, in the case of this particular installment, it also calls into question the very possibility of redemption. Can bad people—or even desperate people who have committed bad acts—be saved? The priest, Father Manny, who runs a church-sponsored orphanage to care for the children left behind in the trail of Mexico’s narco-violence, definitely believes so, and that’s why he’s been working with Brother Lono, an only-recently-reformed and thoroughly tortured soul.
Meanwhile, a drug gang run by a pair of merciless and never-seen twins wields its violence on the area, but—so far, at least—they’ve done nothing more than donate to Father Manny’s orphanage. It’s been off-limits.
But with the arrival of a new nun and rumors of a DEA informant, that’s all about to change. Ultimately, Father Manny’s knowledge of what Brother Lono is capable of—gleaned in the confessional—will win out over his hope for redemption for the big man—but perhaps violence is necessary, like fire, to cauterize particular brands of evil.
Or at least this graphic novel might lead us to believe. It is pulpy noir in the fullest sense of the word, extremely violent, and—like most of the entries in 100 Bullets—not inclined to optimism about the human condition. All that is balanced by some extremely well-paced story-telling and art that ups the adrenaline at just the right moment. It’s not for the squeamish, but it is packed full of thrills.