January 26, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

A revenge fantasy turned into a hard-boiled comic book: In each issue, a grizzled but well-dressed man named Graves gives a gun and 100 bullets to a person who’s been wronged; the victim can kill his/her abuser with impunity. Writer Brian Azzarello manages to ring fresh changes on this premise every month, and, unlike too many comics writers, doesn’t cram every panel with excessive verbiage. Instead, he knows he can rely upon Eduardo Risso’s slashing, expressionistic art to handle most of the suspenseful action that ensues from his plots, which range from a guy avenging his grandmother’s murder to a woman settling a score with a con man. The comic is also a rarity: a non-superhero book that imputes equal-opportunity heroism and villainy to its female characters. A-

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