Saturday, June 29, 2013

Holy Terror

by Frank Miller

For a very long time, I revered Frank Miller.  He was one of the first comics artists whose work I could identify on sight, and I can remember reading the first chapter of his seminal Daredevil Born Again story over and over again when it first hit the stands.

I followed his career from that point forward, but can remember getting a little bored around the time he did his fourth or fifth Sin City story.  There was a gaudy decadence in his story-telling, which was at odds with his ever more minimalist art, and it kind of bothered me.  The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to the excellent Dark Knight Returns really turned me off.

And then there's Holy Terror, the "Batman" story he published 2011.  It was originally intended for publication at DC, but they wisely passed on this story that has a caped crusader and his cat burglar companion take apart an Al-Qaeda cell in his home town.  It ended up at Legendary, and enough minor changes were made to the characters so that Miller could avoid a lawsuit.

The book opens with The Fixer chasing Cat Burglar across Empire City.  When he catches her, they engage in some light S&M foreplay before bombs start exploding all over the city.  Of course it's terrorists, and so the hero and the villain decide to team up (with help from some guy who looks like The Question with a huge Star of David tattooed on his face) to kill the terrorists.

There is a casual racism at play in this comic that would undoubtedly disturb many people, but it is the lack of character that bothered me the most.  Everyone here simply plays the most simplistic of roles, and the act only so that Miller can provide a number of bloody scenes that neither engage nor excite the reader.

Miller is a wonderfully talented creator who now makes terrible comics.  Maybe he's gotten too big to take creative direction from editors (he does have a pretty famous ego), but sadly, that also means he's gone too far down a path I don't want to follow.  My eleven year-old self would not have believed that possible...

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