Paul Pope worked in manga before pitching this miniseries to Vertigo, and the decision to focus on interpersonal relationships while keeping the science fiction setting in the background feels very Chobits. The plot was weaved together from several standalone shorts at the insistence of the publisher, so there is a little bit of Brian Wood's Demo in there as well, not least because the themes invariably come back to love and self-actualisation.
That second bit is important, even if unacknowledged in the author's postscript. Pope may have compromised with Vertigo on the structure of his story, but his character Kettlehead refuses to kowtow to the demands of his patrons to change his art. Several other characters are chasing, or abandoning, some life-project, whether it is opening a coffee roasting company or competing in a fighting tournament. The need for transcendence (in an existentialist sense) bubbles under much of 100%, undoubtedly because the rocky road to artistic fulfillment is a concern close to Pope's heart.
The title alludes to Kettlehead's art-project – tuning 100 kettles to whistle a single note and creating a sense of harmony from disparate objects. His patrons want him to tune his kettles to produce discord instead, as they think that's a more interesting artistic statement – but he sticks to his guns. There is a reflection here on the process of storytelling. Creating a mess is easy, but means little. Creating something that fits together, something harmonious, is harder, but ultimately more worthwhile. While the sexy sci-fi details are diverting, it's Pope's clever interlocking character-driven narrative that makes the book a keeper.