Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Holy Terror (comics)

Writer/Artist: Frank Miller
Original Graphic Novel

Is there a single person who actually wanted this book to come out? I think this was the one project everyone came together and agreed should not happen. How or why was irrelevant.

Unfortunately, the book is finished and out in the wild. The world is just a little bit worse for it. It really is as racist and insulting as you expected.

It's a typical night in Empire City. A slow night, even. The Fixer chases Natalie Stack across rooftops, engaging in their usual flirtatious game. Suddenly, explosions. Suicide bombers. It's at this point that The Fixer decides that killing a bunch of terrorists is about as good a response as any. Stack tags along and guts a few dudes herself.

It's no secret that this book was originally meant to star Batman. Halfway through, Miller realized this probably wasn't a story that fits the Dark Knight. The remains of its original intent are still there. Even with the minor changes he made, Batman stand-in The Fixer and Faux-Catwoman are dead ringers for the originals. Fauxwoman even moves like her DC counterpart, with heavy emphasis on catlike poses and movements. So yeah, you can tell, but it's a good thing Miller decided to change it; I can't picture Batman shooting terrorists in the head and I get the impression Miller didn't want to settle for mere broken bones.

The ignorant racism on display here is the thing that sticks out the most. It's not like Miller is subtle with it. At one point late in the story Fauxwoman infiltrates a mosque; the only caption on the entire page is "the night wind blows away seven centuries". Fauxwoman declares that she's sent a man to his "seventy two virgins" in the afterlife. Everything is "infidel" this and "infidel" that. The Faker muses about how likely it is your random terrorist is named Mohammed. How could you miss it?

As expected, there's no flip side of the coin to be found. Anyone identified as a Muslim in this book is a terrorist. Not that I expected a fair and balanced portrayal. At some point in the last ten years Frank Miller morphed into something resembling a flag waving, government worshipping tool that would probably fit in working at Fox News. He's displayed ignorance of Islam in interviews and will look for any excuse to talk about what a major enemy we're at war with here and "wake up pond scum" and all that. He almost comes off like a parody of hardcore neo-Cons.

Which is an astounding turnaround, because this is the guy who wrote Batman inciting revolutions and the sequel to Robocop, the latter being one of the most anti-conservative films to ever hit the silver screen.

All for what? This piece of propaganda is about ten years too late. If this came out about a year or two after 9/11, maybe the anger would be understandable. Maybe the populace, as confused and easily led as we were, would've bought into it. As it is, we're currently a little over a decade removed from that day; in that time, we've fought several wars that destroyed our economy and even caught the head honcho of Al Queda. Said terrorist group was not even the focus for about seven of those years. The irrational hatred is still around - just the same as racism in general never truly dies - but the slow process of moving past it started a while ago.

So the question is, what the hell is this even for? Nowadays terrorism isn't much more than the boogeyman our government uses to take away our rights while claiming it's to keep us safe. What, do we wage war on Islam and all who practice it? Miller seems to think every one of them is a terrorist, so maybe that is indeed what he's suggesting. Regardless, it's stupid, mean-spirited and misguided in every way. Thanks man, the world really needs more fuel on the fire.

The art is... well, it's definitely Millers work. He's still a master, even if ignorance has taken root in his mind. It's far scratchier than I like. But that's me; I also felt the art kind of struggled to hold together in some scenes late in DKR, which is his magnum opus, so grain of salt. Regardless, he's still pushing boundaries. He works with the landscape format again - the one he used for 300 - and it suits his art well. It's a lot of real estate to draw on and Miller is not afraid to use all of it, whether we're talking four panels a page to eight to twenty four.

Such a shame his talent is wasted on such xenophobic garbage.

My Opinion: Burn It

This was a waste of time, space and energy. It's stupid, racist and embarrassingly wrongheaded. On top of that, the story is so basic that there's little worth here outside of the artwork, even if you're a big Miller fan. Scientists have yet to discern whether or not this book is brain crushingly stupid enough to cause a tumor, so play it safe and treat this book like radioactive sludge. Shit like this should not be encouraged.

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