Even if Alan Moore would shun me for doing so, I’m finally getting around to reading some of the Before Watchmen titles, namely The Comedian and Rorschach mini-series, both of which were penned by one of my favorite writers in the graphic medium, Mr. Brian Azzarello. So I figured it’d be fun to touch on some of the books from his career that have made a lasting impression on me, good or bad. Here we go:
Loveless (2005 – 2008)
Fuck, I loved this book. I was really bummed when DC/Vertigo pulled the plug on it. And they did it right when what started out as a western comic about assholes doing asshole things to each other was evolving into a vast, century-spanning epic about America (which would basically be a historical comic about assholes doing asshole things to each other). This comic is pretty much what Quentin Tarantino is trying to do in his movies now a days. Loveless holds up a mirror to American history’s ugly mug and makes it take a long, hard look at the horrors hiding behind its visage.
Final Grade: A-
100 Bullets (1999 – 2009)
For ten years, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso created one of the greatest crime stories ever told. This comic is staggering in its execution (pun totally intended). Every single character is well-realized. The dialogue pops with authenticity, and the stories the series tells range from insanely intimate to monstrously epic in scale. There is no stone unturned in 100 Bullets. This is one of my go-to recommendations for my friends who don’t read comics. I tell them that if this doesn’t do it for them, I’m not sure what will (maybe Preacher?).
Final Grade: fuckin’ A+
El Diablo (2001)
This mini-series felt like a dry run for Loveless. There are certainly some cool elements in this comic, but ultimately it just feels bland. What made things worse for me, is that I read it after reading Loveless. I can only assume it would have had more of an impact on me if I had read it before. Oh, well. All’s fair in loveless and war (thank you, thank you; I’ll be here all week).
Final Grade: D+
Batman: Broken City (2003-2004)
You know, some people shit on this comic, and I can understand why. Killer Croc is a pimp with some sort of crazy psoriasis; The Riddler is a car thief; things are not what they should be. But that’s what I dug about it. Teaming up with Risso again, Azzarello pretty much gave Detective Comics the 100 Bullets treatment and didn’t give a fuck about continuity or staying true the already established Gotham. They knew you were familar with these characters, but why not try a little something different with them?
Final Grade: B
Wonder Woman (2011 – 2014)
Goddammit, was Azzarello’s run on this book amazing. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if Brian’s departure from Wonder Woman was the reason DC decided to bail on the New 52 and hit the reset button again. I mean, besides Jeff Lemire’s tenure as Animal Man writer and Scott Snyder & Capullo’s Batman, I don’t think there was another title with such a high caliber among the New 52. Azzarello took a character that the entire world was familiar with and injected her story with a brand new mythos, one that worked well in the grand scheme of the DC universe and produced a cast of great supporting characters to root for. This book is fantastic. I was never a big WW fan before this, and I don’t know if I ever will be again. Azzarello may have ruined the character for me by being too damn good at writing her.
Final Grade: A