I’ve heard of this older noir series that ran from 1999- 2009 with 100 issues, but never checked it out until now, which is surprising as I like darker stories. And it certainly lived up to the hype I had heard about it…

First Shot, Last Call

Dizzy Cordova is a young Latina recently released from jail who is mourning the death of her husband and infant son who were gunned down while she was away. While on the bus home Agent Graves sits next to her and gives her a briefcase with an unmarked gun and 100 bullets to exact revenge on those that killed her family. We get a lengthy look at her gang-infested neighborhood and the hard life she and other women are living, showing how few possibilities await Dizzy. She finds out who betrayed her while she was in jail and exacts her revenge. We also get a shorter story about a bartender who was ruined by fake child-porn accusations, and Graves also gives him supplies to kill and tells him who is to blame.

The art by Eduardo Risso is very unique- characters at first seem like caricatures and the illustrations are very angular and dark-hued. But the urban decay is actually captured realistically and this art technique pays off in helping set the style for the entire series.

Split Second Chance

At first, I was under the impression the series would be short stories, only linked by the mysterious Graves, but author Brian Azzarello has a longer more ambitious story in mind. While some of these vignettes might prove to be stand-alones, readers begin to get a backstory on Graves and his shady connections. A character from volume one shows up and we are pulled into a conspiracy that runs deep. The central question is who is Graves and why does he pick the people he does to become vigilantes? Not all are successful for various reasons, but truth be told, I found some of the shorter stories more interesting than some of the longer linked stories. That one about the waitress was heartbreaking and unexpected.

The stylized art keeps you riveted, and while not everyone might like the look, it matches the stories and helps the series stand out. I’m unsure if I will continue reading further into the series, as it is a big commitment with 13 volumes, and conspiracy storylines are prone to becoming too convoluted. So while I plan to set the rest of the series aside for now, I have a feeling the story will pull me back in eventually.