Last week saw the arrival of a trade I’ve been looking forward to: 100 Bullets: Brother Lono.
Oh and if you haven’t read this or finished 100 Bullets there might be possible…
Okay, so when last we left Lono, he had been been shot by Dizzy and fallen out of a window. Not surprisingly, there was no body to be found. Brother Lono finds Lono very much alive, in Mexico as a monk working at an orphanage trying for some level of atonement for his past crimes, of which he has a LOT to atone for. Unfortunately, problems begin when drug dealers and bodies make the scene.
As 100 Bullets readers know, nothing short of a point blank tank shell could probably kill Lono. Still, it was a little surprising to hear that Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso were venturing back into the world of 100 Bullets. After all, it was an incredible series aclaimed by critics and fans alike and revisiting it runs a lot of risks. Not to mention that the two men have proven that they were not a one hit wonder by going on to do more great work with Batman (The Risso black and white Batman Noir collection is one of my favourite books) and their own series, Spaceman. Going back to Lono could be construed as a step backwards or worse yet, a cash grab. To pull it off and pull it off well might be a very difficult proposition. So Azzarello and Risso did something really cool and a bit risky.
They changed the format.
While 100 Bullets was drenched in noir, crime and conspiracies, Brother Lono is more of a simple tale of a man wanting peace but the world and his demons are not going to allow that. The story is pretty straight forward with a lot of beats you can see coming and the conclusion is no great revelation BUT this doesn’t make it a bad story or lazy writing. I think one of the biggest problems with all forms of modern storytelling right now, be that novels, film or even pro wrestling, is that writers are now having a tendency to clutter their stories up with too many plot twists and turns, trying to jam in as much as they can in one tale. This works for some writers and if done well, doesn’t mean you don’t have to fake out the audience from what they are expecting (100 Bullets is a great example of this). A simple story can be great if it’s told well. Azzarello’s knack for dialogue is still 100% present and the story flows masterfully until it reaches it’s bloody climax. Brian Azzarello once again proves that simple or complicated, the man can write a damn good story.
Not that Eduardo Risso is bad either.
Okay, that’s putting it mildly. I’ve gone on the record before about how I came late to 100 Bullets and part of that was due to Risso’s style. At first, I didn’t like it. It’s part of the reason I had bought the first 100 Bullets trade and waited a few years to try volume two. Even then, I was still hesitant on the art. Somewhere around the third or fourth trade, a switch flipped and I got the art and absolutely fell in love with Risso’s style. I honestly can’t explain it any other way. Didn’t really like his art and then one day I figured out how fantastic it is. I love his figures, his use of shadow, his women. If you like his work, do yourself a favor and pick up either the black and white versions of Logan or Batman: Noir and experience him all over again like it was the first time… where was I? Oh yeah, so Risso obviously hasn’t lost any steps here either. The title character still looks as he should but Brother Lono still manages to look a little different then 100 Bullets. I’m not sure if it’s the setting or a change in approach but it feels like a diferent style of book as you’re flipping through it.
Now, I’m not sure if this is just in the trade version or if the original monthlies were designed like this as well but I love how the Dave Johnson covers have “faded creases” in them. It looks like something you’d find in a used book store or an old movie poster. It’s a nice little touch that helps separate it from 100 Bullets even more.
Now to the hard part: Should you buy this?
If you haven’t read 100 Bullets, I’d say maybe. It’s an alright introduction to the character and Risso’s art is fantastic. But it will probably just make you want to read 100 Bullets so what I’d recommend is just buy all of 100 Bullets and then buy Brother Lono.
For 100 Bullets readers who haven’t picked this up (all two of you), it’s well worth the read and your money. It’s a solid story and doesn’t just retread what come before. And I’m hoping we may see Lono again.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!