As "100 Bullets" is winding down both its final storyline and the series as a whole, it's turning out to be a different kind of story in many ways.
Previous storylines in the series had a very focused balance between the introduction and then conclusion of a local subplot involving characters unconnected to the rest of the series, all beneath the ongoing overplot that carries across pretty much every issue of this series. The final storyline seemed to be hewing to that same approach, featuring a subplot about a young gunman whose murder of another student garners national media attention.
That plot seems to have completely faded away as the focus has shifted to what looks like a series of single issue vignettes. It's only natural, after almost 90 issues of tightly woven and intricate storylines kept apart by taut single issues, to expect that the final storyline would be the grandest and most sweeping storyline of them all. Defying expectation, these final issues have been surprisingly quiet and low key. Well, as quiet as you can get with people blowing up other people and shooting them in the face.
But when I was reading this comic in its twenties, and Mr. Branch was squirming for his life, I couldn't help but imagine the final issues as an epic confrontation between every player, all in the same place, probably Atlantic City. Instead, the characters are all spread across America, carrying out different missions and meeting different obstacles.
In this issue, we focus on the two brothers, Remi and Ronnie; one a Minuteman, the other just a thug working for them. Remi has met with some recent misfortune that has cost him his hands, and Ronnie is on his way to see him in the hospital. This issue never takes the camera off the two of them to linger on any other players of the drama. There's no sign of any resolution to last issue's bitter cliffhanger. No word on the state of Trust or Graves' plans. Just hints at calamity.
But taken on its own merits, as a story of two brothers whose fates have been locked together since their introduction, this issue is as poetic as it is improbable. But that fits with "100 Bullets"' tradition of circumstance and coincidence. It's a meditation on futility, and it fits right in with the rest of the melancholy saga. Risso's art and Mulvihill's colors work particularly well together in this issue, especially in the scenes of Remi in the bland and chilled confines of his hospital room.
The issues final moments, if I'm reading them correctly, are almost unbelievable in their absurdity but, as a culmination of the lives of Ronnie and Remi as we have seen them, it is pitch perfect to the end of their stories.
I approached these final issues of "100 Bullets" expecting something very different than what it looks like I'm getting, but it never seems like this final storyline is in any way disjointed from what has come before it. In fact, it's very hard to imagine this series ending the way I expected it to.
"100 Bullets" was never about the guns. It was about who was firing them.