Sunday, March 3, 2013
Comics Review: Frank Miller, Holy Terror
Frank Miller’s 2011 graphic novel Holy Terror was originally planned as a Batman vs. Al-Qaeda story. It’s not hard to see why DC Comics sought to distance themselves and their most popular franchise from the project once they saw how it was taking shape. The story glories in its hatemongering bigotry against Islamic people. It’s utterly repugnant. In the published edition, Batman has been replaced with an obvious stand-in figure called The Fixer. One night, following a chase-fight-and-sex series of hijinks with a character clearly intended as Catwoman, The Fixer is caught on the periphery of a series of terrorist bombings in Gotham--ahem--Empire City. After the attack, The Fixer says “Let’s get us some killing done,” and he and the Catwoman character go on the attack against action-adventure costumed-character imaginings of Al-Qaeda operatives. There’s plenty of killing, as well as a sequence where The Fixer happily tortures a terrorist by breaking his back. The story—its hatefulness aside—is awesomely stupid, and it never escapes from superhero-adventure clichés: the climax has The Fixer defeat the terrorist cell after breaking into their lavish, super-duper, top-secret headquarters underneath the city. Miller’s art is the only point of interest; it combines the splashy, José Munoz-derived style of his Sin City stories with the architecture-fixated imagery of Elektra Lives Again. The kinetic quality of his better superhero comics is present as well. There’s also an odd rendering effect. Miller gratuitously covers the otherwise finished art with strokes, smears, and drips of white paint. He makes it look as if it’s been spattered with bird droppings. However, the more one thinks about this, the more appropriate the technique and effect seem. Shouldn’t excrement look like it’s been rendered with excrement?