Comic Book / 100 Bullets

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The first trade paperback of 100 Bullets
"I wrote about America. About power and corruption, loyalty and betrayal, and the ties that make them family. Friends and enemies. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers. I wrote about moral choices and their costs - whether you make them or not. And about how not making a choice is a choice."
Brian Azzarello's introduction in the final trade paperback.

100 Bullets is an American Comic Book series written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso. Since its debut in 1999, it has received much critical praise and gone on to win several awards such as the prestigious Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story. The series ended on April 2009 at (you guessed it) 100 issues, collected together in 13 trade paperbacks.

The general premise of 100 Bullets is simple at first. A storyline would focus on a new Victim of the Week who has been horribly wronged by another individual and, as a result, had their life ruined. At this low point in their life, they're approached by a man in a black business suit holding a suitcase and going by the name of Agent Graves. He offers them a chance at revenge with absolutely no strings attached: inside the suitcase is a picture of the individual responsible for the person's woes, irrefutable evidence that supports this claim, and an untraceable handgun with exactly one hundred untraceable bullets; Graves also guarantees that if the gun and bullets are used, any investigation into a crime attached to the bullets will be stopped, ensuring that the crime will never be prosecuted.

The initial volumes of 100 Bullets center around the Shades of Conflict Graves' offer yields for the person he approaches; the main conflict is over whether they should indeed commit a murder they know they can get away with in order to obtain a sense of closure. Graves does not judge anyone he approaches for their decision, but simply makes the offer and lets the person choose as they wish. Sometimes these characters will come back, while others have a very minor impact on the overall story.

Soon enough, the focus of 100 Bullets expands to include Agent Graves himself, as it is revealed that he does benefit from these acts of revenge. Sometimes it's because he wants a particular person killed for his own ends, and sometimes he just wants to see his unique brand of justice carried out. It just so happens that Graves is the leader of an elite group of badasses known as The Minutemen, who acted as the police force for The Trust, a group of thirteen powerful families that control the United States. Graves and The Minutemen left The Trust after being told that they are no longer necessary by order of The Trust's leader, Augustus Medici. The Trust plotted to kill them all, but thanks to Graves' inside man Mr. Shepherd, The Minutemen were spared and given new lives - along with a healthy dose of Fake Memories and Laser-Guided Amnesia.

Now Graves is making preparations to exact his own revenge by gathering his Minutemen once more. At the same time, Augustus is making a few power plays of his own concerning both Graves and the other twelve familes of The Trust...


100 Bullets shows examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Megan Dietrich is the very proud owner of the largest chest in the series, and many of her outfits are designed to show them off.
  • Adult Fear: In issue #11 ("Heartbreak, Sunnyside Up"), Graves informs a woman that her 15-year old runaway daughter, who left home when she was just 12, died of AIDs after becoming a heroin addict and spending three years working as a prostitute for an abusive pimp. Even worse, she only found out that she was HIV-positive when she wound up in the hospital after a john mutilated her with a knife—which left her homeless when her pimp cut her loose, knowing that she couldn't make him any money. Then at the end of the issue, we find out that the picture in Graves' attaché was of the woman's husband, who had been molesting their daughter for years, and that she actually ran away from home to escape him.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Due to his small size and large girth, Cole playfully names Branch 'stump.'
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
    • Anwar Madrid resorts to begging Wylie for his life when Wylie is in his mansion. He offers him money, and Shepherd's position as Warlord for it. This gets him killed when he fails to realize Wylie isn't there for him and tries to sell his deal by bringing up Wylie's dead lover Rose.
    • When Cole Burns has Megan Dietrich cornered in issue 100, she is sobbing and begging him to let her go with none of her former poise and cockiness present whatsoever.
  • Ancient Conspiracy:
    • The Trust were the real founders of the United States.
    • The disappearance of the Roanoke Colony was actually a mass murder orchestrated by the Trust.
  • Alternate History: In 100 Bullets, Graves is partly responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy after he gave Joe Dimaggio a chance to avenge the death of Marilyn Monroe.
  • Almighty Janitor: Those who meet the Medicis often overlook Crete, their silent, vigilant bodyguard. He was almost a Minuteman, and in fact turned the position down to serve the Medicis directly. He's actually stronger than Lono, and even with Jack.
  • Anyone Can Die
    • At any time, but especially in the final arc.
    • Most shockingly, Wylie's death.
  • Arc Words: Croatoa, the word that triggers the awakening of the Minutemen.
    • Variations of "America is an evil place."
    • Variations of "I gave you a choice."
  • Artistic License History: The word found engraved at the abandoned site of the Roanoke Colony in 1590 was "Croatoan", not "Croatoa". It's a well-documented fact that "Croatoan" was the historical name of a small island off the coast of North Carolina (now called "Hatteras Island"), and most historians agree that the colonists at Roanoke probably relocated there to take refuge with the local Indians when they couldn't support their own colony any longer. The series never mentions either of these facts.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Most of the cast, but especially the Minutemen in their matching black suits.
  • Badass Longcoat: Shepherd and, eventually, Lono.
  • Big Bad: In such a dark story a number of potential candidates emerge, but the final arc reveals that the true mastermind pulling everyone's strings is, was, and always has been Augustus Medici.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Lono is a ruthless sociopath and much smarter than he looks, and sets himself up as head of a third faction largely independent from both the Minutemen and Trust. However, on a board where the other players include Philip Graves and Augustus Medici, "smarter than you look" simply doesn't cut it. By the end of the story he's a ranting, gibbering maniac, and numerous characters have managed to get one over on him, including ones the reader likely wouldn't expect such as his former victim Sophie and even Benito.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the arc where Dizzy goes to see Branch in Paris, this is definitely true (for French). There's also smatterings of other languages throughout the comic — Spanish, Russian, whatever pops up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost the entire cast dies, but in doing so finally free the United States from the yoke of the Trust. What that actually means is deliberately left ambiguous, but do note that the final issue's bloodbath is set against the backdrop of a sunrise.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The moral ambiguity makes it look like Gray and Grey Morality at first. Don't be fooled. However, lots of story arcs do go through the whole thing without making a single moral judgment on the characters. Whether or not people get what they deserve, as well as what, exactly, they deserve, is left very ambiguous. The only real moral lesson at the end is: if you live your life through violence and corruption, you'd better be prepared to die by them too.
  • Black Comedy: As black as it gets. Much of it is in-universe, but then we get "Did you bust a nut when I...?"
  • Bodyguard Babes: Nino Rego, the mobster who had Loop's father killed, has an attractive Kick Chick named Tommi Yi as a bodyguard. Megan, who's a babe herself, also has one named Kate, who's one of Sigmar Rhone's numerous mistresses and dies with him at the hands of the Minutemen.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The final page of the series shows Graves and Dizzy in the burning Medici manor. Dizzy lies in Graves' lap, possibly because of a spinal injury, and points a gun at his head.
  • Book Ends: The Counterfifth Detective begins and ends with the same internal monologue.
  • Boom, Headshot: There are many. Wylie in particular pretty much only does headshots. Not a bullet wasted. Every shot has a point. "My First Shot Is My Last" is his motto.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Oh, no. People have to reload.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Lono, who has a laundry list of incredibly vile, perverted and violent acts to his name, claims that anal sex is his kryptonite during a scene toward the series' end.
  • The Brute: Jack functions as this for the Minutemen. Being the biggest and toughest who favors his fists above guns. At one point he kills a man with a automatic rifle by simply taking it away from him and crushing the man's skull against the pavement with his foot.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • After Cole Burns is rejected by his former girlfriend Sasha, he hits up a bar on the night two robbers have tried to rob it and have decided to murder everyone inside after they saw the face of one. Attempts to involve Cole in this simply provide him an outlet for his frustration.
    • Several people think it wise to insult or attack Lono. It is usually the largest-and final- mistake they ever make.
  • Butt Monkey: Branch.
  • The Butcher: Remi Rome's civilian occupation is literally a butcher, and he's the most needlessly violent Minuteman.
  • Buy Them Off: In issue #5, Megan Dietrich does this to Lee Dolan, a former restauranteur who had his life ruined when Megan inadvertently got him framed for being a child pornographer. When Lee shows up to kill her, she manages to pacify him by offering him 2 million dollars on the spot. In the end, though, turns the tables and kills him when she finds out that he stole her Trust pin to get to her.
    • When cornered by a very irate Wylie Times, Anwar Madrid offers to let him kill Shepherd and in exchange he'll give Wylie Shepherd's old job and restore his good standing with the Trust. Wylie shoots him.
  • Call Back: When Eight-Ball unexpectedly reappears in issue #28, he's introduced the same way he was in the first issue: chatting about an episode of Jerry Springer in which a guy finds out that his girlfriend is a man.
  • Cast Herd: Averted.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: There are so many hints and things dropped throughout the series, if you're rereading it.
    • Like the Trust-pin Megan has in issue #4, a good long while before the Trust is even discussed.
    • Or Remi's saying "Anything in my hands is a deadly fuckin' weapon, Cole!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Augustus' pet alligators, who eat Jack and Crete alive in the final issue.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: When you see Graves smile, it's usually bad news for someone else. And Lono: his smile is sometimes the only thing you see, in the dark.
  • The Chessmaster: Graves never leaves anything unaccounted for, same for Augustus Medici. By the final issue, both have made key mistakes: Graves underestimated the depths Augustus was willing to plumb for power, and Augustus underestimated Graves' morals. Fatal consequences for both ensue.
  • Chick Magnet: Cole Burns, Wylie Times, Victor Ray and Benito Medici (except to Megan, who loves to play with his obvious lust for her).
  • *Click* Hello
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Frequently. It even becomes a plot point in one book — when Dizzy and Wylie run into a pair of contract killers in New Orleans, the killers are able to figure out who Wylie is because they hear him yell "Fuck!" and recognize his voice from when he said it before in the dark. Annoyed, Dizzy says "You might want to expand your 'freaking out' vocabulary!"
  • Code Name: All of The Minutemen have nicknames referring to their personalities. Cole is known as The Wolf, likely for his predatory smile and alpha male personality. Lono is The Dog, because he's a big, dangerous attack dog who needs a strong hand on a short leash. Jack is The Monster — the biggest, most dangerous of all of them. Milo is The Bastard for his abrasive and obstinate personality. Victor Ray is The Rain, as he falls on the just and unjust unquestioningly at Graves' order. Remi is The Saint, likely for irony. Wylie is The Point Man, because he was a leader among his peers, and because every shot he fires has a point — a killing headshot. Loop is The Boy for his youth and newness to the job. Dizzy is The Girl for the same reasons.
  • Co-Dragons: Victor and Remi are this to Graves in the later parts of the story.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Victor Ray, "The Rain", does not believe in fair fights.
  • Continuity Creep: As the series goes on, it gradually starts to become clear which of the Victims of the Week are actually key players in the overall Myth Arc. As former Victims of the Week start to make return appearances, and Call Backs to previous issues become more frequent, the story arcs becomes less about meeting the latest recipient of the attaché, and more about the ongoing conflict between the Trust and the Minutemen.
  • Corrupt Hick: A pair of hillbilly hitmen appear in Wylie's spotlight arc. They're his first kills upon reactivation.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Often occurs between members of The Trust and/or The Minutemen.
  • Death Seeker: Jack Daw, the largest and toughest of the Minutemen, is utterly married to his self-destructive nature and openly admits he wants to die during the Atlantic City job.
  • Defector from Decadence: Cole's faith in the Minutemen is shaken after they kill Wylie and torture Branch, and he ultimately quits the group entirely after Branch dies too.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Victor Ray, better known as "The Rain", is able to keep his emotions in check and can execute his mission with utmost efficiency. One time he was able to give off a lecture about the origins of The Trust IN THE MIDDLE OF A GUNFIGHT without even breaking a sweat.
  • Death by Irony: Cole Burns dies by burning, by means of his own lighter dropped into a pool of oil.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Cole Burns is arrogant enough to think he can walk back into Sasha's life where they left off after he left her without a word over a year ago with only a ring. Sasha does not take him back, remarking while she once longed for his arms around her, "they don't seem strong enough to hold me anymore." Whatever she felt for him is gone, and Cole sadly leaves her in peace.
  • Dirty Old Man: Sigmar Rhone, head of the House of Rhone, is married to a beautiful woman who looks at least half his age, and regularly cheats on her with beautiful women. He's slept with at least two other female trusts heads as well.
    • Augustus is more middle-aged than old, but he still seduces Megan Dietrich, who's not only less than half his age, but also the object of the gawky affections of Augustus's own son.
  • Dramatic Irony: The deaths of the Rome Brothers. Ronnie was on his way to the hospital to see Remi, who was there recovering from both hands being amputated. Remi believed that their mother had died of a heart attack, which he never got the chance to learn was just "the agita." Ronnie, knowing their mother was okay, was likely going to use the information to comfort Remi and maybe try to give him a reason to live. But Ronnie got in a car accident on the way, and was brought to the very same hospital Remi was in. As Ronnie was being wheeled inside on a gurney, likely a quadriplegic, Remi jumped off the top of the building. Ronnie's eyes open in shock as he sees his brother about to hit the pavement.
  • Driven to Suicide: Upon learning he's actually a Minuteman, Milo Garrett, not wishing to go back to that life, provokes Lono into killing him when knowing his true identity would've easily saved his life from The Dog.
  • Eaten Alive: Jack and Crete in the finale, at the hands (or rather, jaws) of Augustus's alligator pool. It speaks to both men's Super Toughness that this is what it took to put them down.
  • Erotic Eating: Cole's girlfriend, Sasha, does this with a popsicle in issue #9. A suspiciously phallic-looking popsicle.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: At the end of the first arc it's revealed that Dizzy's brother set her husband and son up to die by telling the Dirty Cops where to find them; the brother wanted to take over the husband's gang and was angered by his wanting to go straight to support his son. Dizzy doesn't kill him, but she does leave him behind to take the rap for the cops' murders.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Rome Brothers adore their old ma. Special points to Remi who is one of the most vicious, brutal and cruel members of the Minutemen but absolutely dotes on her and won't even tolerate bad language used in front of her.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Sigmar Rhone and Anwar Madrid are two of the sleazier Trust members, but even they love their kids.
    • Subverted with Augustus Medici. He certainly seems to care about Benito for most of the story, but when put into a position where he has to sacrifice either Benito or his power, he chooses Benito without hesitation.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Both Rome brothers are horrified when they see a friend of theirs has child porn in his car.
    • Megan is also disgusted by child porn, though her method of disposing of it left at least one innocent person framed, which she doesn't care much about.
    • Victor Ray, in his spare time, goes out and kills worse criminals to make up for the lives he takes as a Minuteman.
    • In the finale Graves is horrified that Augustus would murder his own son.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Augustus's one little mistake: not counting on Graves having standards. There are apparently lines even Minutemen won't cross, and the cold-blooded murder of your own child is one of them.
  • Face Heel Revolving Door: It can get extremely difficult to tell who Shepherd and Lono are working for.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • We get to see Sigmar Rhone having a conversation about the plot mid-coitus with one of his numerous much younger mistresses, as well as the buttcrack of an obese murderess.
    • From the final issue: Megan Dietrich in a low-cut belly shirt. Yes please. Megan Dietrich in a low-cut belly shirt wetting herself in absolute terror because she's about to be set on fire by a mid-Villainous Breakdown Cole Burns? No thank you.
  • Fanservice: For just one of many examples throughout the series, there's Megan's habit of wearing too-small swimsuits. The artist also highlights Dizzy's rear end often.
  • Fanservice Extra: Numerous characters throughout the story, such as the Minutemen's girlfriends in their civilian lives, assorted patrons and employees of the various strip clubs and seedy bars the characters meet in, and Dizzy's lascivious mother Bonita.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Briefly, in Cole's introductory story arc, when a mobster in his neighborhood claims that he found a truck full of cigarettes "abandoned on the side of the road".
  • The Fettered: Agent Graves. He has a very strict moral code based on personal ethics, and he made sure that all the Minutemen he had a part in creating had a similarly rigid code of honor. Even Lono has a thing he won't do.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The very first page of issue #1 is a flashback sequence showing Dizzy standing in the rain with a gun to her head, and the scene immediately after it shows a nude Dizzy taking a shower in prison. The final page of the final issue shows Dizzy pointing a gun to Agent Graves' head in the burning Medici Manor, possibly about to be burned to death.
  • Friend to All Children: Before rediscovering his old memories of life as a Minuteman, Cole Burns makes a living selling ice cream to the kids in his neighborhood. Sure, it's just part of a scheme to sell stolen cigarettes for the Mob, but the children genuinely like him, and he takes his duties as their resident ice cream man surprisingly seriously. Before leaving with Graves to start his new life, his last act is to make sure that the replacement ice cream man knows all the kids' names and their favorite ice cream, and to make him promise to give them free ice cream on his first day on the job.
  • Funetik Aksent: Used quite effectively to show accents of the Urban, Southern and Louisiana variety.
  • Femme Fatale: Megan Dietrich and Echo Memoria.
  • Gambit Pileup: Where to start? Besides Graves and Augustus, some of the Minutemen have plans of their own, as do the smaller families within The Trust.
  • The Gambler: An entire story arc is devoted to a dice throwing conman named Chucky. Another involves a man named Hank who tries to save his sick wife by winning enough money in a poker game — and later, seeks revenge on Benito when he raises the stakes too high and forces him out of the game. Benito Medici loves gambling and has extraordinary luck. Branch also loves to gamble but his luck comes and goes.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Milo Garrett is an exceptional fist-fighter and can put down trained fighters twice his size with just a few punches. Jack Daw is the single best hand to hand fighter in the series, being a giant of a man who can even knock out Lono of all people. Not for nothing was he named "The Monster."
    • Granted, Milo is a former Minuteman; one whose pugilistic prowess was highly regarded even by Lono.
  • Groin Attack: Poor Fulvio Carlito is brutally castrated by Lono during Lono's torture session.
  • Guns Akimbo: Minutemen have done this on more than one occasion, with deadly results.
  • The Gunslinger: Every single one of the Minutemen are monsters with guns. Wylie Times, their former leader, is nearly invincible with guns in his hands. Just ask at least nine men pointing automatic weapons at him before Wylie had even drawn his own handguns.
  • Hand Wave: There's very little explanation given for the actual mechanics behind Graves' "game", leaving a few lingering questions as to how he manages to pull off everything that he does with the attachés. In particular: How does he always manage to find the culprits behind so many different crimes, even when there were no witnesses? How does he still have enough influence to let recipients get away with murder when he's no longer a member of the Trust? And if he can always find evidence to prove targets guilty of their crimes, then why do they so often go unpunished by the police? The official explanation, given near the end of the series, is that he knows a well-connected arms dealer who can pull strings with various government agencies. It's not a flawless explanation—but considering there wouldn't be a story without the attaché plot device, it's forgivable.
  • Handguns: The preferred weapon of the Minutemen.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: It'd be easier to list the characters who don't qualify.
  • Hidden Depths: Augustus Medici, Chessmaster and Diabolical Mastermind par excellence, also happens to be a very skilled chef, and most of the meals in the Medici house are cooked by him.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Special nod to Wylie Times and Victor Ray. Wiley is the most moral of the Minutemen while Victor attempts to 'atone' for any dirty killings he commits by killing the guilty and rescuing victims in his spare time.
  • Hufflepuff House: With thirteen houses in the trust, it's only natural that some get less page time than others. One house head, Constance Von Hagen, went unnamed until the issue in which she died, and even then it was only her first name. Her surname was up to speculation until Word of God confirmed it.
  • Human Shield: Victor Ray doesn't shy away from using them even if it's a body of a dying partner.
  • Hurricane of Puns: At the Atlantic City Job, Cole and Wylie keep working in bad jokes about fire to their conversation, prompting them to decide to "just cut the fire metaphors and relax."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With one exception, the title of each of the collections is based around its number.
    • Book 1 is "First Shot, Last Call".
    • Book 2 is "Split Second Chance".
    • Book 3 (the only one to break the tradition) was originally going to be called "The Charm", as in "Third time's the charm", but it was instead named after the collection's main story arc ("Hang Up On the Hang Low") after it won an Eisner Award.
    • Book 4 is "A Foregone Tomorrow".
    • Book 5 is "The Counterfifth Detective" (a play on the word "counterfeit").
    • Book 6 is "Six Feet Under the Gun".
    • Book 7 is "Samurai", a reference to the film Seven Samurai.
    • Book 8 is "The Hard Way", a reference to a dice throw in craps (double fours, aka "Eight the hard way").
    • Book 9 is "Strychnine Lives".
    • Book 10 is "Decayed", a phonetic pun on the word "decade".
    • Book 11 is "Once Upon a Crime" (a reference to "once", the Spanish word for "eleven").
    • Book 12 is "Dirty", a reference to the film The Dirty Dozen.
    • Book 13 is "Wilt", a reference to the basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (who had "13" on his jersey, and is famous for being the first NBA player ever to score 100 points in a single game).
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Best exemplified by Wylie Times, "The Point Man"; every shot he fires has a destination and will hit its mark. However points also go to Victor Ray for purposefully shooting someone ABOVE the heart.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Branch - He goes out of his way to find out about Graves and his bullets and is forced to flee to France after getting his hand broken by Lono.
  • Ironic Nickname: Remi Rome, one of the cruelest and most violent and brutal of the Minutemen was given the name "The Saint."
  • It Amused Me: As the series goes on, it gradually becomes clear that at least part of Agent Graves' motivations for his "game" boil down to this. Though some of the attaché recipients are unwitting pawns given the opportunity to knock off Graves' enemies, and others are former Minutemen waiting to be reactivated, many more of them are just ordinary people with no relevance to him whatsoever. On some level, Graves is just a sociopath who enjoys testing people to see if they can be tempted to commit murder if there are no consequences.
    • As we learn in issue #8 ("Day, Hour, Minute...Man"), Graves still likes to test people even when he's not handing out attachés. In that issue, he leaves a $50 bill on the floor at a café to see if his waitress will pick it up when she thinks he's not looking, and then "lets it slip" to her that Lono has two million dollars in his briefcase to see if she'll try to rob him. She does, and Lono later brutally rapes her after getting his money back, leaving her with a hefty case of PTSD.
  • Jerkass: Remi is an immature little prick who utterly delights in antagonizing others. Milo is nicknamed the Bastard for that reason.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Karma Houdini: Word of God has indicated that Lono did, in fact, survive his ambiguous Never Found the Body fate at the end of the series. The upcoming "Brother Lono" miniseries will trace his post-Minutemen life.
  • Kick the Dog: Members of the Trust and the Minutemen are all guilty of this at different times.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Normally shooting a naked unarmed woman does little to endear the character to the audience. Though given that it's Echo Memoria we're talking about...
    • Many of Lono's kills fall into this category as well, such as the Carlito family and an abusive prison guard.
  • Kill 'em All: Only Loop, Victor, Will Slaughter, survive the series. Dizzy, Graves, and Lono may have a chance by the time of the Bolivian Army Ending. Many of the other characters are killed off in the final issue, which may have been what Graves wanted all along.
    • Dizzy's and Graves' fates are tied to each other, and left ambiguous at the end. Dizzy can do her job as a Minuteman and kill Graves, but if she does so, she will be unable to escape the burning mansion due to her injuries. The fact Graves put himself in the place where Dizzy would have to make this decision is particularly interesting, since it means Graves is giving her another one of the choices he's so obsessed with: do her job or save her life.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Shepherd warns Anwar Madrid to just shut the hell up when Wylie is in the room, but when Anwar begins to hysterically offer Wylie Shepherd's job, saying that Anwar's backing Wylie will mean a lot since Wylie was the one who executed Anwar's daughter Rose, Wylie calmly shoots him in the head before Anwar can finish why. "I didn't need to hear what I think he was going to say."
  • Kill It with Fire: Kind of how the plot gets going. The Minutemen burn a hooded figure alive after drenching him in gasoline.
  • Knight Templar: Agent Graves believes in offering his principles to people through his offers of the hundred bullets and the untraceable guns.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The only thing that grosses Lono out is anal sex. As he puts it: "We all got our Kryptonite, Jack...shit on the dick is it for me."
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Minutemen are completely unaware of their previous lives and are essentially normal people until they hear or see the word "Croatoa."
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: It's a huge Ensemble Cast.
  • The Lost Lenore: Wylie is always in mourning for the loss of his lover, Rose Madrid. It turns out Wylie was forced to kill her after she made a move against the House of Medici with the backing of Roland Dietrich. Her death has haunted Wylie ever since.
  • MacGuffin: The painting.
  • Made of Iron: Jack and Lono. Both take tremendous amounts of punishment. Jack once took three blows from a bat to the back of the head, before finally choosing to turn and headbutt the bat-wielder into submission. During a bare-knuckle boxing match between the two in Volume 10, Victor Ray's explains why to Loop: "It's pain, versus no pain. Fer one of 'em? Pain is all he ever feels. While the other...can't feel, 'cause his head is fucked." Even Victor is not sure which is which.
  • Mafia Princess: Subverted twice by Benito Medici - he is a Mob Prince and is well aware of his Father's activities, though he chooses to distance himself.
    • Rose Madrid is the normal female example, daughter of Trust member Anwar Madrid.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Toward the end of the series it's revealed that the mastermind behind Graves' briefcase scheme is Abe Rothstein. And Abe Rothstein is a short, fat arms dealer living in a dingy basement who dies in less than an issue. That said, he's apparently a very well-connected guy.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Many story arcs have either background events or subplots that do not relate to the main story, but often express sublime messages and themes that help enrich them.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Agent Graves is no stranger to getting people killed while Agent Shepherd guides and nurtures Dizzy. There's also Romulus and Remus Ronnie and Remi Rome.
    • Augustus Medici's name suggests authority - Augustus, for the first Roman Emperor, and Medici, the most powerful family in Renaissance Italy. The Real Life Medicis fit the profile of the sort of families that founded the Trust, so it's entirely possible Augustus is descended from them.
    • The minor character of Sergeant Dirtz, a dirty prison guard.
  • Mercy Kill: Wylie shoots trumpet player Gabe Martin after he loses his jaw in a bear trap. Martin's only joy in life was playing blues and he lacks the will to kill himself.
  • Mr. Exposition: Branch - Whenever he's being featured expect A LOT of background information.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sexualization is present throughout the entire series, but Megan Dietrich takes the cake.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Of all people, Lono gets this when he realized he was the one who killed Milo Garret, the only member of the Minutemen he genuinely cared about.
  • Myth Arc
  • Never Found the Body: Lono, in the final issue.
    • Word of God is that he survived. The upcoming miniseries Brother Lono will follow his post-Minutemen life.
  • Never My Fault: Occasionally a source of conflict for recipients of the attaché, who often become fixated on revenge because they're convinced that they can pin all their problems on one person, and are unwilling to acknowledge that they're just as at fault for the state of their lives as the people in the attaché.
    • Chucky Spinks, the dice-throwing con man introduced in the third story arc, wants revenge on his childhood friend Pony (now a big-time bookie) for getting him sent to prison for seven years. But his revenge fixation really takes off when he also tries to blame Pony for stealing his girlfriend and getting him barred from craps games by spreading word that he's a hustler. The truth is that Chucky's girlfriend left him of her own accord because he's a terrible boyfriend, and that Chucky's too cocky to realize how obvious his scam is.
    • Jack Daw initially tries to blame his heroin addiction on everyone from his family, to his ex-girlfriend, to his previous bosses, and can't accept that he wound up homeless, friendless and jobless because he's too selfish to think about anyone other than himself, but too unmotivated to know what he actually wants out of life. At the end of his introductory story arc, it turns out that the picture in the attaché was a picture of Jack himself, essentially prompting him to commit suicide.
    • Graves himself is subject to this, despite his philosophy. He tries to pass the blame on to Augustus for forcing him to compromise his principles, and refuses to accept responsibility for choices he himself has made.
    • Augustus Medici orchestrates the murder of his own son at the hand of Megan Dietrich, then justifies himself to a disgusted Graves by saying that he technically didn't force her to do anything, even mockingly parroting one of Graves' own lines about "choices."
  • New Meat: Dizzy and Loop.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In Hang Up On The Hang Low.
  • Odd Friendship: While in prison, Loop becomes friends with Erie, leader of the local Neo-Nazi clique. For added irony, Loop and Nine Train, leader of the black clique, mutually despise one another.
  • Offhand Backhand: Lono walks out a door and casually kills a guy who is waiting for him with a gun. Lono simply crushes his trachea with one blow.
  • Offing the Offspring: The final ace up Augustus's sleeve: resign the seat of House Medici in favor of Benito, then have Benito killed, assuredly resulting in an Evil Power Vacuum that would annihilate the entirety of the cast except him. He gets it, too - though he didn't count on becoming a casualty himself.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Wylie's shoot-out with Mikhail "Coochie" Kuchenko and his gang in the desert.
  • One-Man Army: Any of the Minutemen can wipe out plenty of normal people, but a special mention is made for Wylie Times, who storms an armed house filled full of armed men and only needs a single bullet for each one.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Cole Burns was shot in the arm but it did not faze him. Later he fished the bullet out in the shower.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Shepherd assigns Wylie the mission of killing his lover Rose Madrid after she tries to have Augustus killed, knowing that having one of the others do it would only make things even worse.
  • Only Sane Man: Daniel Peres is one of the saner Trust heads and uses his influence to keep the other members from devouring each other. So naturally, he's the first one the Minutemen kill.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Will Slaughter. Him coming out of retirement heralds the beginning of the end, as this was the one thing neither Augustus nor Graves saw coming.
  • Parental Substitute: The Minutemen were all like Joseph Shepherd's children and all of them speak of him with reverence. Special points to Wylie Times who was the closest of the group to Shepherd.
  • Passing the Torch: Shepherd leaves his job as Warlord of the Trust to Lono.
  • The Perfect Crime: Shepherd was recruited into the Minutemen because he managed to pull off one of these ( the murder of the homophobe who beat his partner into a coma) without their help. Even they aren't sure how he did it, and they never get an answer.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: As the finale marches on, Graves names Dizzy as his successor following the machinations that have seen him removed as Agent of the Minutemen to the Trust; Megan first challenges this on the grounds that Dizzy's a woman, and then is blatantly about to call her a 'spic' before she's cut off.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: If Wiley Times his a gun out, expect to see lots of these. He tends to fire once and leave the target with a small hole in the head.
  • Private Detective: Milo's job in his "regular" life after he was deactivated as a Minuteman.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Used heavily in the fifth volume, starring Milo, given the volume is a homage to old-school film noir.
  • Psycho for Hire: Lono starts the series as a crazy mercenary with a rep for violence and destroying whatever is in his path. In an early cameo, he shoots down a helicopter in broad daylight.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Remi is the youngest Minutemen and the most wantonly destructive. Even Lono, though capable of greater acts of outright evil, is able to exercise pragmatism when the situation calls of it, a quality Remi sorely lacks.
  • Pungeon Master: Milo Garret, both in his hard-boiled narration and in conversation.
  • Punny Name: Agent Graves's first name is Phillip, as in Fill up Graves. Then there's Cole Burns ('Coal burns'), Jack Daw ('Jackdaw'), Victor Ray ('Victory'), and Echo Memoria ('Echoic Memory').
  • Retired Badass: Will Slaughter is a former Minuteman who raised his own replacement and is now living happily married to a younger woman with three beautiful little girls. Then the remaining Trust heads request he comes out of retirement...
  • Revenge: The Central Theme of the series.
  • Scary Black Man: Nine Train is the leader of the black inmates in the prison Loop gets sent to and is a very large, very bad man.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Loop, Victor Ray, and Will Slaughter do this at the very end of the series.
  • Shout-Out: The Minutemen are a gang of seven badass career criminals dressed in identical black suits and ties, who disband suddenly when they're involved in a crime gone wrong. Sounds familiar.
  • Slasher Smile: Lono and Remi Rome sport utterly chilling grins at the worst of times, but most of the Minutemen can pull this off.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Many characters look cool smoking, especially Shepherd.
  • Spanner in the Works: What the Minutemen ultimately become. They end up completely ruining every single person's plans without ever figuring out why or having a goal of their own.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Wylie Times and Rose Madrid. An assassin who serves the Trust and the heiress of one of its Houses. The two were deeply in love with one another, but Wylie is forced to kill her when she betrays the Trust, as he could never allow another Minuteman to kill her. He's broken about it for a long time after.
  • Straight Gay: Joseph Shepherd's sexuality is never discussed whatsoever, until it is subtly revealed in his flashback that was he was likely discharged from the army due to being gay and murdered a man for beating his lover Tim into a coma. Curtis Hughes angrily comments "at least you can hide what scares them," having been passed up for being a Minutemen due to being black by the exceptionally racist Trust.
  • Suicide by Cop: Milo, after not liking his Minuteman era memories purposely provokes a fight with Lono who shoots him dead.)
  • Super Toughness: Lono, who endures a barrage of bullets to the chest and is only knocked unconscious, eventually making a full recovery. Jack is even tougher - he takes three hits to the head with a steel bat without even moving, and defeats Lono in a bare-knuckle fight.
  • Sweet Tooth: Agent Graves is often seen eating pies, cakes, sweet drinks and popcorn while plotting.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Lono had at least two murders under his belt before his twentieth birthday. Shepherd picked him up for the Minutemen from Death Row.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Minutemen are not exactly buddy-buddy with each other, or with Agent Graves. About the only thing most of them had in common is a rigid and personal moral code which they do not share with the others, so this is probably to be expected.
  • Together in Death: If it's not just a dying hallucination the last thing Wylie sees is Rose lovingly leading him into the afterlife.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: All but one of the Minutemen aren't even aware of their true nature when they are first introduced.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Loop Hughes and Dizzy begin the series as newcomers to a very violent game. By the end of it, the two are hardened fighters who can hang with the Minutemen. Wylie Times, easily the most dangerous man alive with a gun, believes Dizzy has the potential to surpass him.
  • Tranquil Fury: Upon regaining his memories, a stone-faced Wylie Times marches to Anwar Madrid's mansion and guns his way through his bodyguards. It is not until he sees Shepherd that the mask falls and we see the fury Wylie is truly in.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Victor Ray, for most of the series, is the single most loyal Minuteman to Graves. When Wylie comments he'd also leap off a cliff if Graves asked, Shepherd informs him unlike Victor, Wylie'd need a reason first.
    • Crete, the mysterious, hulking beast of a man, is loyal to the death to the House of Medici, especially Benito.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The final issue reveals that the vast majority of the cast was this to Augustus Medici. The only one smart enough to realize it was Graves, who takes it upon himself to execute Augustus for his crimes.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Frequently, recipients of the attaché find out the hard way that getting revenge does not, in fact, magically make all of your problems vanish.
  • Vigilante Man: Victor Ray kills criminals in his spare time to balance out the awful things he does on Graves' behalf.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Not an example of the villain, but Lono loses much of his cocky attitude and smug demeanor after being run off the Medici premises by Benito of all people. He later starts ranting at his fellow Minutemen, screaming at them to just shoot each other and get out of his way. Then he is possibly killed by something he survived easily earlier in the comic.
    • By the finale Cole has also completely lost it after splitting from the Minutemen and watching his best friend Branch die. He messily kills Echo, Branch's killer, then dispatches three of the four remaining Trust members before allowing himself to die in an explosion.
  • Villainous Friendship: Lono had one with Milo Garrett, and at least respected Shepherd enough to want to avenge his death. It's the closest thing to a redeeming trait the guy has.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Minutemen who are genuinely friends tend to be like this. Wylie and Cole seemed to snark at one another quite a bit.
  • Wham Shot: Often in the form of an unexpected death.
    • Issue 79 and Remi Rome's bullet through Wylie Times' heart.
    • Issue 88 (and volume 12) end with a shot of the body of Branch, bleeding out due to a punctured jugular.
    • Issue 98 and Javier Vasco's brains splattered over the conference table.
    • The Grand Finale opens with the lifeless body of Benito in the Medici pool.
  • What You Are in the Dark: A core theme of the series. Simply put: would you kill someone who wronged you if you knew that you could never be found out or tried for murder? The answer to that question speaks volumes about a person's moral character. Notably, one character (Mrs. Bugg in "Silencer Night") decides to kill her target, but later turns herself into the police because she comes to regret her actions.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Dealt with in one issue that also partially introduces Milo. While Joe DiMaggio is stated to be the man on the grassy knoll, he is not directly stated to be Kennedy's killer. Instead, Graves suggests he could have fired the killing shot, but there were also other people operating for reasons separate to DiMaggio's that were in Dallas that day. Graves also adds that whether DiMaggio made the kill is beside the point, given he still got what he wanted, in the end.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "The Counterfifth Detective" is a loving homage to The Maltese Falcon, with Milo Garrett standing in for Sam Spade, Megan Dietrich for Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and Lono for Wilmer.
  • Wicked Cultured: Augustus Medici is a very evil man with very expensive tastes, in particular his habit for pre-embargo Cuban cigars.
  • Wild Card: Lono is the only Minuteman to have not been a part of the Atlantic City job and thus avoided being deprogrammed, allowing him to be an independent player in the game. He changes allegiances like most people change shirts and always leaves a long trail of bodies in his wake.
  • Would Hurt a Child: If Graves orders it? The Minutemen will do the job. Victor Ray and Remi Rhone execute a Trust head's entire family, starting with his wife and then three children.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Trust no longer need The Minutemen during such a peaceful era and decide and try to kill them off. This ends... badly.
  • You Got Spunk: Lono shows a more twisted variation of this trope after a woman spits in his face.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Crete to Jack in the final issue. Like the Trope Namer, neither makes it out alive.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/OneHundredBullets