100 Bullets Omnibus (Vol. 1) by Brian Azzarello

Title: 100 Bullets Omnibus (Vol. 1).
Writer(s): Brian Azzarello.
Artist(s): Eduardo Risso.
Colourist(s): Patricia Mulvihill & Grant Goleash.
Letterer(s): Clem Robbins.
PublisherDC Comics.

: Hardcover – Omnibus.
Release Date: March 5th 2021.
Pages: 1376.
Genre(s): Comics, Mystery.
ISBN13: 9781779507426.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Vengeance. An age-old concept where emotions dominate over reason, where violence seems to be the only logical behaviour to adapt for those blinded by rage towards the fate they were given. Many contemplate the idea but never act upon it, judging the consequences far too devastating not only to the one who’s receiving the violent end but to themselves as well. Only a few find (or create) the opportunity and find the means to complete the circle and the law remains the only true barrier that keeps these countless victims from taking it into their own hands. But what would one do if they were granted the chance to wreak vengeance on those who brought them pain, without a single form of consequence for their action? Published from June 1999 to April 2009 in exactly 100 issues, legendary writer Brian Azzarello teamed up with acclaimed artist Eduardo Risso to deliver a Vertigo crime series like none other that explores morality plights where individuals are invited to contemplate vengeance and bury themselves following an act they could never undo.

What is 100 Bullets Omnibus (Vol. 1) about? The story is set in a world not much different than ours where individuals of all colours live to embrace happiness, success, and tragedy. However, one man, known as Agent Graves, goes around finding individuals who have lived through a terrible wrong in their life, something that they’ve had to keep close to their hearts forever but had no true closure about. What he offers them is an opportunity like nothing they’ve seen before, one that is free of any legal repercussions, and it takes on the form of a suitcase containing a handgun, a hundred bullets, and documents pertaining to the sole person who is the source of the wrong they’ve been the victim of. Promising complete immunity for its use, no repercussions in any form whatsoever to their being, the only question that remains is if they’ll pull the trigger or not. But who is this Agent Graves and why is he doing this for these people?

This first of two omnibuses contains issues #1-58 of the critically acclaimed crime series, the “Merry Christmas, Bitches” short story from Vertigo: Winter’s Edge, and a special sketchbook section from artist Eduardo Risso.

“Also in the attaché is a gun, and one-hundred rounds of ammunition. All untraceable, all yours. Do with it as you see fit. If you act on this information, you will have carte blanche.”

— Brian Azzarello

What first seemed like an episodic series, continuously introducing new terribly flawed characters from various corners of life with each issue then transformed and sleekly evolves and exposes the intricate webbing hidden between the lines. Connections are made, secrets are revealed, and the plot is unraveled: something far more complex is at play. Set in a gritty and gruesome world, every character comes with their own set of emotional baggage that gives writer Brian Azzarello the perfect guinea pig to work with. This allows him to explore the complexity of negative emotions, ranging from sadness to hate, to expose the myriad of facets to vengeance, and to develop the grim, dark, and clever motivations of these characters. While the story takes it time to eventually hint towards a much larger scheme at play, it most importantly delves into the ethical and moral choices that a person has to make in their life when confronting with a golden opportunity to carry out their most profound desire, especially that pertaining to vengeance or redemption.

Never missing an opportunity to build upon the tragically beautiful cast of multilayered characters, writer Brian Azzarello also sees his ideas stylishly portrayed by artist Eduardo Risso. In this series, there’s no doubt that the artwork is an acquired taste, one that will either grow on you according to your investment in the storyline or die on sight. His artistic vision is unforgiving and focuses on character traits, emotional states, and questionable behaviours, rarely ever dwelling on environmental details. He also fully maximizes the space, using the traditional gutter (space between panels) to his advantage and never limiting himself to conventional panel structures. The colourists also heavily play with warmer colours while also accentuating shadows more often than not, giving the overall series its unquestionable crime noir style. It’s also difficult not to appreciate the poignant nature of his artwork that always leaves you uncomfortable yet inquisitive. After all, that is what will keep readers hooked and craving answers.

100 Bullets Omnibus (Vol. 1) is a charmingly provocative, mysteriously puzzling yet conceptually riveting crime series that explores morally ambiguous grounds through engrossing characters.

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



23 thoughts on “100 Bullets Omnibus (Vol. 1) by Brian Azzarello

  1. Oooph. I am of two very different minds about this. On one hand, this sounds absolutely intriguing. Vigilante Justice when the Law has either let you down or been corrupted is a theme I like reading about.
    On the other hand, claiming that violence without consequences is possible makes me shudder. That is a horrible idea and leads down paths better left unexplored.

    The artwork was ok, not offputting like some of the stuff you’ve showcased before 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And there’s plenty of that here (vigilante justice/vengeance/retribution)! And your second comment is exactly why many end up abandoning this series, I think. It’s a very horrifying concept but it’s up to the reader to position themselves in regards to these characters’ decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job describing this one, Lashaan, especially highlighting the morality plays. And commenting on Bookstooges thoughts about violence without consequences, I agree with that but as I’ve read this I think they’ve done a good job showing there are always consqeunces of some sort, just not ones the characters might have thought enough about beforehand. They bring back characters who took the offer and thought there’d be no consequences, but we get to see what their life has become after making the choices. And thankfully there are also those who choose not to take the offer, so they show both sides. So far I’ve been willing to suspend my disbelief at the idea of it even being possible there’d be no legal consequences, just moral and psychological, but I’m hoping they delve a little further into how that’s possible in their world, how the organizations we slowly get glimpses of maybe have their fingers into other parts of society. And I do love how they’ve slowly weaved in larger story elements showing there is something bigger out there, and perhaps even something bigger beyond that. But I’ve still got a long ways to go before I get to the end of this story. I’ve bought it slowly over the years starting with the original much smaller storyarc collections and now grabbing the rest as larger collections but not the huge omnibus. I think I’m up to issue 37 next, so you’re a bit ahead of me. Glad to see you’re enjoying it. I’ve had similar feelings, very much enjoying it. And the artwork was absolutely an acquired taste for me. It wasn’t completely offputting, as Bookstooge said, but it also didn’t appeal to me in the beginning. But now I find I enjoy it, and I’m always looking for those small details they sometimes put into the panels that hint at different things related to the story. I can’t wait to see how this entire story ends at issue 100, though I’ve been taking my time getting there. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Todd! I agree with you there. They do a brilliant job in showing us that the consequences take so many different forms and often things that people who are in the middle of this quest for vengeance don’t think about at all. And the different characters from different backgrounds really give us things to reflect about, an opportunity to relativize it to our own lives. The premise is indeed tough to swallow without asking a couple of questions but I find it truly fascinating in itself. Sort of like how someone is convinced that they must exact revenge and believe that there’s no way they’ll get caught. I do have to admit that this series might have been rougher on people who bought these as each issue came out. Especially when it started off episodic. This is definitely one of those series, upon reread, might actually reveal even more than you’d think too, and I love that! Looking forward to exchanging notes as you/we progress through this. Then again, I’ll probably wait till the 2nd omnibus comes out to finish the series hahah Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Todd! Always love discussing things with you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm hmmm… I’m of two minds here. Azzarello is burned for me after that Rorschach/Comedian travesty. But the premise sounds intriguing and if the author can actually string two independent thoughts about morality together this might be worth my while… 😉 Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw this on Comixology and was toying with the idea of getting it. I was a little turned off by the premise but your review and Todd’s comment have me reconsidering.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Really glad to hear your interest in it now! I’d recommend testing the first volume while keeping in mind that the series starts off more episodic but evolves later on to reveal a more interconnected story. Everything will come down to how intrigued you are by the mystery and how much you enjoy the gritty exploration of morality. 😛

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I like the theme of this series- the morality angle could be very intriguing to read and think on afterward. I will have to check the first volumes out based off your review!

    Liked by 1 person

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