Comic Heroes - - Comics We Rate -

The 100 Bul­lets writer-artist team of Brian Az­zarello and Ed­uardo Risso have re­united for a rather dif­fer­ent era of hard­boiled crime. This time they find them­selves in Pro­hi­bi­tion-era Amer­ica, telling a story about a hooch brewer and the New York gang­sters who have un­wisely de­cided that they want the booze.

The book fo­cuses on Lou Pirlo, an al­co­holic hench­man sent to the Deep South to talk Hi­ram Holt into giv­ing his boss a share of his hooch busi­ness. He soon finds him­self em­broiled in the vi­o­lent ac­tions of the Holt family, and hunted by the were­wolf who stalks the woods.

The un­der­belly that Az­zarello and Risso cre­ate here is suit­ably murky, with ex­plo­sions of ex­treme vi­o­lence de­picted with a black and red pal­ette. The sprawl­ing cast of gang­sters and mem­bers of the Holt family can be hard to keep track of, but Az­zarello makes sure you have all the es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion when you need it.

Even five is­sues in, though, it’s still not en­tirely clear what’s go­ing on. Lou’s al­co­holic black­outs may or may not have a more mon­strous ex­pla­na­tion, some­one’s def­i­nitely a were­wolf, and there’s a psy­chic lady who can talk to the dead. Az­zarello has a habit of throw­ing read­ers into the deep end and let­ting them fend for them­selves, but this time the sense of dis­ori­en­ta­tion is alien­at­ing and, rather than feel­ing sucked into a baf­fling world, you feel more like you’re stand­ing out­side of it, wait­ing for the creators to pull back the cur­tain on a re­veal that will fi­nally make sense of ev­ery­thing. Abi­gail Chan­dler

Hooch plus were­wolves? The ti­tle is pure ge­nius.

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