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The main character of much of the series, Agent Philip Graves is a mysterious and enigmatic old man who presents wronged individuals with the opportunity for revenge without consequences. He is first introduced in the eight page story in the 1998 Vertigo Summer special "Silencer Night", before appearing in 100 Bullets issue #1. Graves is a man in his mid to late sixties who appears like a police or government agency official.
Philip Graves was a Minuteman until he was elected to the position of Agent in the early Sixties after the death of Agent Neil Walker. His new position was contested by then-Warlord, Mr. Shore, who implicated Graves in the death of Walker and as being in league with other Trust members, but Shore was overruled by Trust leaders Roland Dietrich and Axel Nagel. As Agent, Graves was the head of the Minutemen up until their apparent demise in Atlantic City. Graves himself was believed dead by the Trust until his re-emergence, shortly before the beginning of the series.
After his presumed death, Graves retained his access to the attaché cases containing evidence of a crime, a gun with 100 untraceable bullets, and immunity from law enforcement to give to whomever he pleases. Many of the people he approached were being given an opportunity to deliver justice as they see fit. In some instances, the person was unknowingly used for the Trust's purposes. In other cases, Graves uses the attachés to test the person's morality and constitution for varying purposes (sometimes as a precedent to recruitment into the Minutemen). Graves' access to the attachés was eventually halted due to the death of his supplier, Abe Rothstein.
His true motives were unclear for much of the series, but it became apparent that Graves was looking to avenge his betrayal by taking down the Trust. It eventually revealed that Graves, along with Augustus Medici and Javier Vasco, had masterminded a decades-long grand plan to assume power over the other houses of the Trust. After Vasco's death, Graves and Augustus agreed to sit down with the remaining members of the Trust where, as part of a peace agreement brokered by Augustus, Graves was forced to resign as Agent, only to assume rule over the vacant House of Vasco. Graves was required to select a new Agent from the remaining Minutemen: Cole, Victor, Jack, Dizzy, and Loop.
In issue #100, Graves appointed Dizzy as the new Agent and tasked her with punishing those responsible for the death of Benito. He then goes to confront Augustus, blaming him for his son's death. When Graves finds Augustus he chooses to punish him personally, shooting the unarmed Medici in the chest. This accidentally sets off an explosion which kills Megan Dietrich and Cole Burns, and appears to seriously injure Dizzy. The series concludes with Graves cradling Dizzy's body in the middle of the burning household, as she claims that as a Minuteman, she must kill him for killing Augustus and moving against another family of the Trust. Their ultimate fates are not shown, but Graves' mood in the series' closing moments is one of despair, as he declares his life has been ruined, and he does not resist as Dizzy takes aim at his throat in a panel drawn to ape Leonardo Da Vinci's Pieta. It seems extremely unlikely that he will survive.
Throughout the series, Graves is always shown to be meticulous and calculating, rarely showing any outbursts of emotions. In some rare instances, he is shown to very much care personally for certain characters (such as in his almost fatherly relationship with Dizzy.) Although he does not appear in every issue or story arc, Graves' presence dominates most of the action and intrigue that occurs in the book.
He is possibly an atheist, as when Lono asks him if he believes in God during issue #100, Graves responds, "No."
He was described by series creator Brian Azzarello as "the only character who never lies."
The character was nominated for the Squiddy Award for Best Character in 2000. The character appeared as an easter egg in the panels of Azzarello's run of Batman "Broken City". He is based on a composite of actor Lee Marvin and writer Brian Azzarello's grandfather, a Massachusetts police officer.