17 October 2011

Frank Miller's Holy Terror (not good)

Frank Miller and I share a birthday and a we have a deal on comics; he writes and draws them and I read them.

I first came across Frank Miller by accident in 1979 when he started drawing Daredevil for Marvel Comics, which I was reading at the time.

Since then he has produced some iconic masterpieces, notably Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Sin City (1991).

Now we have Holy Terror but its not very good.

A lot of what you expect from Frank Miller is there. The landscape book is rich with black pictures with driving rain, spots of colour, a Batmanesque character, water towers on rooftops and a few terse sentences. What is lacking is a story to bind all this together.

This is odd as the spark for the story was the terrorist attacks on 9/11 so he has had ten years to think of one. But instead of a story we have rage.

Frank writes on his web site "I wish all those responsible for the Atrocity of 9/11 to burn in hell. I’m too old to serve my country in any other way. Otherwise, I’d gladly be pulling the trigger myself." I can understand the sentiment (though I do not share it) but it does not make a story.

We have no characterisation either. The man who gave Daredevil the passion to bring Elektra back to life serves up simplistic terrorists and even more simplistic vigilantes to fight them.

These are not heroes that we can cheer for. We have no love for the terrorists but it is hard to think that the cruel and violent response is any better. Frank rages about the 3,000 of his neighbours killed on 9/11 but cares naught for the many more killed, and still being killed, by his countrymen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Even his Robocop scripts had more subtlety and this.

The one redeeming factor of the book is the artwork and that is such a big factor that it makes it readable despite the story.

Conveniently the landscape format makes this a coffee table book rich in striking artwork that you can skim through without worrying about the script.

Here we see a barely disguised Batman and Catwoman swinging through Empire City.

It's a dramatic and vibrant picture and one I could look at for ages.

But comics are about words as well as pictures and it's impossible to forget Holy Terror's flaws. Much better to read Dark Night or Sin City.

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