52 Down 0 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

The Emperor Xerxes of Persia intends to add Greece to his empire, and he’s brought along an army of millions. Spartan King Leonidas has only his 300 bodyguards with which to defend his tiny nation of free men, and does so with both tragic and triumphant consequences.

It’s easy to fall into superlatives when discussing Frank Miller’s work – now especially with his increasing visibility in Hollywood – and 300 is no different, the art is cinematic and moody, the dialogue suitably loaded with gravitas and Miller’s usual retinue of tortured heroic characters are in attendance.

But I’ve come to detect an unpleasant subtext to all of his work since he announced his plan to write Batman going after Osama Bin Laden. Now, Miller has arguably greater ownership of Batman than any other living comics writer, but the notion is faintly ridiculous, even by comic book standards. 9/11 seems to have polarised his worldview into something as black & white as Sin City. Here’s an extract from an article he wrote, published September 11 this year.

Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up. For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die.

Yeah, very Bush administration, I know. 300 seems to fit rather neatly within this ‘us versus them‘ dichotomy, with the added bonus of the Persians being a rather swarthy race and the Greeks being the historical source of freedom and democracy. I know I’m talking about popular fiction here, and comics are – despite recent developments – still not the first place to find measured political discourse. But I expected more from Frank Miller.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic book, but I just feel like I’m not reading the same writer anymore, y’know what I mean? I guess this is what it feels like when you grow out of your heroes. Good thing I’m pretty sure I’ll probably still enjoy the movie.

(ISBN No: 978-1569714027) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

1 Response to “52 Down 0 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)”

  1. 1 toysrevil January 1, 2007 at 4:41

    and what a way to end your reading-adventures! LOL great choice heheheh

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