Written and Drawn by Frank Miller
Published by Legendary Comics (not sure if this is a DC imprint or not.)
You may have heard mostly negative things so far about Frank Miller’s “Holy Terror” so I decided to take a look and see for myself. The first rule I have for any kind of art is that you have to look at the art divorced from whatever political point of view that you happen to have. The quality of a person’s art is often a completely separate thing from a person’s politics. You can be a great artist and have just all kinds of crazy inconsistent and just plain mean spirited political views.
So, it should be stated up front that “Holy Terror” isn’t that bad just from an artistic point of view. It is, however, completely horrible from a political point of view. I say this as a left wing Noam Chomsky is God Pro Occupy Wall Street tent thrower moonbat type so you’ve been forewarned. If you’re more of a Red State National Review send the American A Rabs to internment camps wingnut then you might find this to be the graphic novel of the decade. It will bring a red tear down your eye, surrounded by your black and white silhouette.
First, let’s talk about it just as a comic art. It’s very well drawn because its drawn by Frank Miller, who worshipped at the feet of Will Eisner (even though that “Spirit” movie kind of didn’t work), who wrote The book on how Sequential Art is done. Frank Miller was and remains an excellent student. There are just some beautifully drawn scenes that tell you that Frank hasn’t really lost his line. Comic book artists don’t really get worse as they age but sometimes their line gets a little less firm. There are also some trademark Frank Miller “isms” in that it’s drawn Sin City style, mostly black and white with splotches of well placed color. I would probably give the art a five.
The story is a bit more lackluster. It’s kind of a revenge fantasy starring the heroes of “Empire City” who look suspiciously like Batman and Catwoman but are known as simply “The Fixer” and “Natalie Stack: Cat Burglar”. I believe, if I remember the back story correctly, was that this was supposed to star Batman but DC, wisely, if you ask me, thought that wasn’t a good idea. The city is hit by what looks to be a number of terrorist bombings featuring what looks to be placed explosives and suicide bombers who use lots of nails, which look oddly beautiful when drawn by Frank Miller.
Let’s just say that the heroes of Empire City will have none of it and off we go on their jingoistic possibly culturally racist killing spree. It’s all competently done although it should be said that punching leering Arab stereotypes in the face probably wouldn’t solve the problem. I would give the story about a two. Just for a comparison its not as good as Martha Washington or Ronin or his early Daredevils or his two Dark Knight novels. So about 3.5 out of five just as art, divorced from the politics.
With the politics, it rates about a one. The politics are so wrong headed that this is the kind of comic that I would never let a child read alone. If I had a kid, and I didn’t want my kid growing up evil I could see myself hovering over his or her shoulders “You know that’s well drawn but kind of racist…”. Here’s a sample that kind of floods the book:
Wrong on just a lot of levels. First, its well known that islamic terror groups are looking for non stereotypical blue eyed white skinned jihadists. They would probably be named “Biff”, “Bob” or “Sarah” not Mohammed. So its wrong just from a tactical perspective. Oh, and thanks for making him look African American as well Frank.
I guess the biggest political area of concern for me would take the Ward Churchill viewpoint in that 9/11 could be looked at as act of self defense. Or remember those old pre 1960s westerns where Native Americans are shown as yelling tribal savages murdering decent white folks? Do you remember any scenes showing white illegal immigrants destroying Native American habitats, killing Native Americans by way of force or disease and just generally stealing their land? Yeah, me neither. Likewise, we’ve installed repressive puppet regimes all throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. Bin Laden had his reasons. You might not agree with his methods but there was a rationale.
Let me state publicly for the record that I think Al Qaida seems to be made up of fundamentalist wackos. But you could argue that they’re wackos of American foreign policy creation and also are consistent with the American foreign policy feature of murdering moderate muslims and replacing them with murderous repressive dictators. These dictators turn out to be very friendly toward our multinationals. What a shock.
There’s this helpful three minute tune here. It could just as easily be a 20 minute tune.
Finally, and this goes to the crux of the argument that there’s a fascist underpinning to most comix action, you just don’t solve these problems with a punch in the face, cinematic and artistic though it may be. I guess I was hoping for a satisfying epilogue where The Fixer says now that the carnage has ended I must insist on Israel stopping the settlements, statehood for the Palestinians, debt forgiveness for first and third world countries and let’s not steal the natural resources of both Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terror. “Because I, the Fixer, want the killing to stop”…I guess I’ll keep dreaming.
So, 3.5 stars without politics. One star, or two big thumbs down, if you know anything about anything. Related: Comic that makes fun of Frank Miller’s apparently recent conversion to the far right and his critique of the Occupy Movement. I remember his earlier works being kind of liberal. More Related: Alan Moore becomes his arch nemesis and openly supports the Occupy movement. I don’t think Moore gets any money for those V for Vendetta masks. He’s always been a bit of a flaming left winger which is another reason I’ve always loved his work.