- Series: Stray Bullets (Graphic Novels)
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: El Capitan Books (April 20, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0972714561
- ISBN-13: 978-0972714563
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,955,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stray Bullets Vol. 1: Innocence of Nihilism (Stray Bullets (Graphic Novels)) Paperback – April 20, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This unforgettable epic of lowlife criminals in Baltimore in the 1980s pulls no punches. An obsessed junior gunsel in love with a corpse; an abused little girl who takes refuge in violent fantasies of robbing banks; a lonely woman who picks up a teenage boy; a hit man who looks like Jesus Christ—these are only a few of the indelible characters caught up in Lapham's ultra-violent saga. Jumping in time from 1977 to 1997, the seven stories in this book are interrelated in subtle ways. Joey, the murderous youth from the first story, appears in another piece, set 17 years earlier, as a boy walking in on his mother having sex with a random guy at a party. Ginny Applejack, in a sad tale of child abuse, is transmogrified into Amy Racecar, a nihilistic antiheroine who is Bonnie and Clyde rolled into one. Lapham's heartbreaking yet detached stories show how petty criminals delude themselves into thinking they're just one score away from leaving it all behind. But even the most sympathetic characters can't break free, like Led, a young punk who finds true love at a wild party and thinks nothing of robbing a liquor store when the party runs out of beer. Lapham's fluid, keenly observed art elevates even the melodramatic moments into stunning instants of shattering truths and savage consequences. (Mar.)
Top customer reviews
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On the back cover description as well as some people's write ups of the book, there seems to be this notion that the stories are woven together even though they at first appear to be unrelated. They're really not. You see or hear about characters in one story, then another, but the references to what you've already read have little to no impact whatsoever. They're pretty much simple call backs to previous stories. That's it.
What the book does have going for it is that the stories are very real and explore people's bad sides extremely well, often to gruesome effect. For me though everything is simply too disjointed. Just because stories cross paths every once in awhile, that doesn't automatically translate to a consistent narrative, and some stories straight up don't have a satisfying ending. I really wanted to like this one because the omnibus for $40 is a great buy, but I was left wondering what the point of it all was despite some very impressionable pages here and there.
A flat tire in the middle of the night can cause all kinds of problems when you need to move a dead body to get at the spare. One thing leads to another and pretty soon there's a killing spree. It's hard to put the blame all on one person but the dim-witted guy would get most of it. The strange thing is (as you might guess from the title), "The Look of Love" turns out to be a very warped love story. "Victimology," about a little girl whose life changes for the worse after she witnesses a crime, is promising for awhile but leads to a ho-hum ending.
"The Party" is a cool story about a bunch of petty criminals who all seem to work for, and fear, a guy named Harry. They manage to mess up pretty much every crime they commit, causing generalized mayhem in the process. The ensemble cast is carefully developed. The story ends abruptly but it's engrossing. If it had an actual ending, it would make a good movie.
"Bonnie and Clyde" is a weak story of misdirection that, at least initially, appears to be about a child molester. The art is great; the story falls flat.
A much better story is "Backin Up the Truck," about a boy, just turning 18, who meets a cougarish older woman at the same time he witnesses a guy being run over by a truck. All of those events come together to change his life. She throws him a birthday party and who should show up but ... the same thugs from "The Party."
In the funniest story, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," a girl in a coma is hooked up to a Truth Machine and tells the truth about God which, of course, nobody wants to hear. The final entry, "Freedom!," about a young girl dealing with a tragic event, is a complete departure from the others but it is the most moving story in the book.
The art, like the writing, is detailed and imaginative. On the whole, despite a couple of minor missteps that are easily overlooked, this is an excellent example of graphic storytelling.
Toward the end of the book, there is a freestanding story about super-criminal Amy Racecar and I admit that I didn't understand that Amy is a story within the story and is meant to be a character created by the little girl, Virginia Applejack. Amy's gleeful, over-the-top violence comes at exactly the right time and is a bit of a respite before the reader has to deal with the sadness of the last chapter (I don't think it's a spoiler to say this one doesn't have a happy ending).
If you enjoy crime comics, I strongly recommend you check out Stray Bullets. It's deservedly an Eisner winner and the real crime (sorry; bad word play) is that there aren't more reviews of it--I think it's just that it's an older title. It's got some substance to it, though, and I think it would bear a re-read, if I could subject myself to those sad, grisly scenes again. That's not meant to be faint praise but I can't really gush about a comic that heavily and effectively features a little girl who suffers a massive amount of trauma. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't read it; it's really good. But you will not be throwing this in your beach bag with the Lumberjanes.
Most recent customer reviews
There’s a fair amount of violence, some of it mindless.Read more