100 Bullets: Brother Lono 8

Alternating Currents: 100 Bullets 8, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 8, originally released February 26th, 2014.

We are what he made us to be. To try and be something else…is the greatest sin of all.

Lono

Drew: I didn’t know religion growing up. My parents never took me to church, and somehow, none of my childhood friends ever went, either. It wasn’t until I entered middle school that I made friends with people of any kind of faith — run of the mill midwest Lutheranism, but they might as well have been the pope in my sheltered mind. Being both 13 and an asshole (I know that seems redundant, but I only grew out of one of those), I enjoyed picking fights with them over simple religious tenants. The simplest — why do bad things happen to good people? — was most commonly answered with the wimpy cop-out of “God works in mysterious ways.” That seems like a simple enough “we’ll never know” (and was probably only ever invoked to get me off their backs), but as with most religious answers, that simplicity masks a world infinitely more complex than the question itself. Is everything that ever happens part of God’s “mysterious” workings? If “bad” things can be part of God’s plan, doesn’t that throw the whole notion of morality out the window? These questions lie at the heart of Brother Lono 8, though the answers Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso come up with may not be what anyone suspected. Continue reading

100 Bullets: Brother Lono 7

Alternating Currents: Brother Lono 7, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 7, originally released January 8th, 2014.

…I’m afraid the heart of religion is fear.

Father Manny

Drew: It’s hard to deny the importance of fear. It is the fundamental driver of our sense of self preservation, and may very well be the most basic, universal emotion there is. Of course, that also makes it the easiest to manipulate. Modern life is filled with organizations trying to scare us: corporations want to scare us into buying their products, political parties want to scare us into electing their candidates — but none of those organizations are about fear in quite the same way that religion is. I’m not just being cynical (and I don’t think Brian Azzarello or Father Manny is when he makes the above statement) — underneath all of that scary stuff about hell and sin is an elemental fear of the unknown: what if our ignorance of things we couldn’t possibly know (i.e. the meaning of life, the existence of a creator, etc.) was bad? Brother Lono 7 finds almost every character confronted by some unknown entity, and the results are decidedly bad for all of them. Continue reading

Best of 2013: Best Series

Best of 2013: Best Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. We were lucky to read a lot of great series over the past year, but it’s those that pushed the boundaries that we wanted to sing special praises of. These are our top 13 series of 2013.
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100 Bullets: Brother Lono 6

Alternating Currents: Brother Lono 6, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 6, originally released November 20th, 2013.

If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.

-Anton Chekhov

Drew: Chekhov’s gun is one of my favorite writing principles — it insists that writing be as efficient and purposeful as possible — but as a reader, I often find myself wishing I had never heard of it. When writing, Chekhov’s gun is helpfully prescriptive; when reading, it is frustratingly descriptive. Suddenly every gun introduced is a time bomb — there’s no question of if it will go off, but when. That dovetails beautifully with Hitchcock’s famous explanation of surprise vs. suspense (effectively, that surprise is when a bomb goes off at the end of a scene, while suspense is watching that same scene knowing the whole time that the bomb is there), suggesting that each new element must hold our suspense until it comes to bear on the narrative. Of course, we know that this is rarely the case in practice — few writers can sustain that level of dread for such a sustained period — which is why Brother Lono has been such a fascinating study in suspense. Writer Brian Azzarello took great care in introducing his gun, reminding us that it is cleaned and ready to fire, and waiting until issue 6 to finally use it. Continue reading

100 Bullets: Brother Lono 5

100 bullets 5

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 5, originally released October 16th, 2013.

Patrick: Here’s a truth about me: I was raised in the Catholic church. Baptism, Sunday School, First Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, service, retreats, classes — you name it. If I ever sound like I’m too-cool-for-school now, brother, you should have known me back then. Ironic detachment was my only form of self defense, and I applied it liberally. Here’s an example of how far I’d push it away: I used to say I was giving up Catholicism for Lent. You can smell my shit-eating grin as you read that last sentence can’t you? I kinda still do it — I frequently site that period in my life as useful because now I can recognize Christian imagery in literature. But irony can only take you so far, and there are some concepts so compelling and elusive that they haunt you, no matter how thick your armor. Brother Lono 5 strikes on that most troubling of truths: not only are we all sinners, we are all meant to be sinners. Continue reading

100 Bullets: Brother Lono 4

100 bullets 4

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 4, originally released September 18st, 2013.

Why do you fight? Is it for the thrill — or the victory? There is a distinction. You know this, don’t you? Have you ever stopped fighting long enough to ponder the question? Is it to win… or to live to fight another day? Is okay, it’s for the thrill. The rush. The joy found not in winning… but in beating.

-Cortez, 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 4

Patrick: Brother Lono poses a host of interesting questions: ranging from “dear God, what the hell is wrong with him?” to “no, seriously — why are these people so mean?” The answers are seldom easy, and they’re never pleasant. While this issue mostly moves the plot toward the cartel taking over the Mission and Sister June’s DEA cover being blown, there’s a strong thematic undercurrent of why these people behave this way. The answer is just as ugly as the actions, but then, I’d expect nothing less of 100 Bullets. Continue reading

100 Bullets: Brother Lono 3

Alternating Current: 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 3, Patrick and Drew

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 3, originally released August 21st, 2013.

Patrick: For a couple of months in Chicago, I worked as a barista at Argo Tea. It’s basically a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, with its priorities reversed. As a barista, you don’t have a lot of room to make any substantive decisions during the day — in fact, most of the time you’re just trying to keep up with orders and not fuck up all the drinks. Occasionally, drinks do get fucked up and customers get mad. If you’re lucky, the customer just asks you to fix the drink and that’s that. But if they’re feeling particularly entitled or vengeful, they can contact corporate to complain. That’s when the avalanche starts, as the complaint trickles down from corporate to the store manager to the shift leader and back to you, the lowly barista. With each level of authority the complaint is filtered through, there’s more and more residual anger and blame built up until a simple mistake suddenly appears to be a blight, symptomatic of complete institutional incompetence. That’s an incredibly low-stakes example of what Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso explore in issue 3 of Brother Lono.
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100 Bullets: Brother Lono 2

100 bullets 2

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 2, originally released July 17th, 2013.

Drew: What is it that defines us? Is it our thoughts or our actions? Can moral men have immoral thoughts? This is the stuff of middle-school philosophy debates, but it becomes a bit more practical when we talk about self-improvement. What does it mean to change? Is it our thoughts or our actions that change? Is the past we’re coming from a set of actions, or something more fundamental to our being? When I interviewed Brian Azzarello last month, he said that Brother Lono is “the story of a man trying to not be himself,” and issue 2 begins exploring exactly what that might mean. Continue reading

100 Bullets: Brother Lono 1

100 bullets 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing 100 Bullets: Brother Lono 1, originally released June 19th, 2013. Check out Drew’s interview with Brian Azzarello here!

Patrick: Revenge narratives are tough — in order to properly motivate a hero to undertake an immoral quest, the character needs to be severely wronged. We place so much moral capital on someone’s ability to turn the other cheek, that even when the protagonist is pushed to their limits, it feels a little icky to see the bad guy get what’s coming to ’em. I mean, they have to maintain the high ground somehow, right? But no matter how masterfully crafted, these stories are always ugly, always petty, and even in their moments of triumph, always revolting. Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso built a compelling story engine on the framework of revenge in 100 Bullets, and their new mini-series may have dropped many of the central conceits of the original, but that intensely repulsive element remains. I cannot wait to see the bad guys get what’s coming to ’em in this series. Continue reading

Creator Interview: Brian Azzarello

interview brian azzarello

Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso’s 100 Bullets is back with a new 8-issue mini-series about Brother Lono. To celebrate, Azzarello sat down with Drew to discuss the new mini, the first issue of which is out today. We also ask him about Wonder Woman 21 (also out today) and his contributions to Before Watchmen. Spoilers for all issues discussed below. Continue reading