They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
— Carl Sandburg
0. The Preface
Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, et al
Collects: 100 Bullets #1-58, Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #3; 1376 pages total
History loves its monsters. Our mad kings and queens; our despots and serial killers; tyrants, butchers, madmen, and thieves; these are the people who leave the most indelible marks on nations and people. Good men and well-behaved women, as the saying goes, don’t tend to make history in the same way.
This is true everywhere you go. But nowhere more so than America, with our love of frontier outlaws, true crime podcasts, and gangsters. And nowhere in America is that more true than in Chicago.
We are Capone’s town. Blagojevich’s town. Big Bill Haywood’s town. Chicago is Rev. Billy Sunday playing center field in the “beer and whiskey” before cutting out on his contract to make more money as a temperance preacher. Chicago is its beating subway heart, a joint venture between a ruthless monopolist and the mob. It’s Richard M. Daily’s name in brass on every bridge (especially the ones he didn’t make).
It’s Brian Azzarello’s town. That’s why the story opens here… but it’s not the reason.