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Miller, Frank – A Dame to Kill For: A Tale From Sin City

Listing of all his comics

A Dame to Kill For: A Tale from Sin City

The best limited series in the Sin City line, bar none. It’s a more complex work than most of the other books in the series, and that’s not to say that the other ones are simple, because they’re pretty far from it. If I had one complaint about this series, it’s that the protagonist almost dies in every series. Shot to pieces, no way that he could be alive, but hate always keeps him going. It’s not a bad trick, but it would be nice if Miller didn’t use it in every series. Anyway, this one has it all: Dwight (the only character featured three times), Miho (I’ve already mentioned that she’s my favorite character in the whole Sin City world), Manute, Marv… Listen, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who haven’t read any of these series yet and don’t know where to start. I don’t know why you’d be reading just one review, but if you’re reading this one, this book is the one to get. Or Family Values, if you want to be a cheapskate about it.

What’s it about, you say? Well, Dwight apparently went through a lot of bad shit back in the day, so these days he’s living clean and not letting “the monster” inside out. A visit from a past lover (Ava) has him rethink this plan, and finding out that she’s in trouble only makes him more convinced. After all, she tells him that she still loves him, and he never got over her. It’s one giant book of twists and turns after that, so I’m not going to spoil anything for you. One thing I really like about all these series is that there isn’t just a simple formula that Miller follows. I mean, you could read the greats of noir (like Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, James Cain and Dashiell Hammett) and, for all their brilliance, some of them got a little lazy. There would, more often than not, be a easily identifiable part of the story where you could see a plot twist coming a mile away, and that just isn’t the case with this guy. Not that I’m elevating him to their level, at least not yet. The greats of noir got to where they are in history (or at least for the people who still read books) by being prolific geniuses whose work has stood up to the test of time. It’s yet to be determined if the same can be said for this stuff, but it’s sure great to be along for the ride trying to figure it out.

Miller, Frank – Sin City

Listing of all his comics

Sin City

Frank Miller reviews are the easiest thing in the world to write. You either love him or you hate him, and nothing anybody says is going to change that. I happen to think the guy’s a genius. If you know the names Cain, Chandler and Jim Thompson, you’ll love this series. Comic noir at its best. This is the first one in the series and is the story of Marv, a pathetic character who falls in love with a woman who is trying to get him to protect her. He gets too drunk and she is killed while she’s sleeping next to him before he even knows he’s supposed to protect her and is framed for the murder, and that’s where the fun begins. The rest of the book is him trying to find the killer and the men responsible for it. One thing I don’t get, and I didn’t notice this the first time I read it: why was the girl, Goldie, killed? Was it just a matter of getting mixed up with the wrong crowd? Maybe I missed it, and I guess it isn’t a crucial element, but it seems like a plot point that should have been mentioned somewhere along the way. One possible knock on this series is that the main characters in a lot of the books are really similar. They’re all strong, imposing types who kick everybody’s ass while they’re doing whatever it is they’re doing in the series. I don’t think that’s true of the guy from A Dame To Kill For, but I’ll have to read them all again to let you know.

So do I think you should buy this book? If you like Frank Miller, yes. He’s at his best when he’s writing and drawing, and that’s what he’s doing on this series. I don’t know if he’s just taking a break from this to do the Batman book or if he’s done with this series. There’s only so many stories he can tell about this city before it gets boring, so I kind of hope that he moves on. I should also mention, without giving anything away, that this book has one of the best finales ever.

Miller, Frank – That Yellow Bastard: A Tale From Sin City

Listing of all his comics

That Yellow Bastard: A Tale from Sin City

It’s funny. I remember this as being possibly my favorite in the series, but after reading it again I’m going to have to take that judgment back. Too many near deaths for my liking. You just kind of stop buying it after a while, you know? I’m willing to let Mr. Miller take me on a ride, don’t get me wrong. My disbelief has been suspended many times by that guy and it probably will be again many times, but there are only so many times per series that the main guy can almost die. If you can get past that, this is still a good one, but it was impossible for me to get past it.

This is the story of the son of the most powerful businessman in town brutally raping and killing little girls and getting away with it because of his connections. One man stands up to him and is horribly punished for it. There’s a lot more to it than that, but the fun of these series is in being taken for a ride, so I’m not going to give anything away here. Lots of sex and mayhem and the story has enough twists and turns to keep me happy, it’s just the little things that bug me here. Maybe if the protagonist wasn’t around 60 years old when the series kicks off (and a lot older by the end), then I could buy this a little more. Miller just doesn’t seem to be able to draw anybody besides the same type of male that he always has, and this guy should look at least a little different from all those people. Possibly if the series was in color, but one of the things that makes Sin City work so well is the use of black and white and a whole ton of the solid blacks. In the end, this is an OK addition to the series but that’s about it. I guess the lesson here is to never trust my memory…

Miller, Frank – Sin City: Big Fat Kill

Listing of all his comics

Sin City: Big Fat Kill

Dwight’s back at it again. He has a new girlfriend and the story starts off with his defending her honor the only way he knows how: by beating the crap out of everybody involved. I think Miller has a hard time drawing handsome male characters, because everybody in the book seems to think that Dwight is handsome as hell, but it’s kind of hard to tell when you look at him. Anyway, Dwight takes it upon himself to take care of the new problem that his girlfriend has, but she neglects to mention a vital fact about the guy who’s causing her all this trouble, a secret that could blow Sin City apart at the seams… don’t descriptions like that just bug the hell out of you? Anyway, it’s true, and it’s hard to think of anything destroying the “harmony” that prevails in Sin City more than the action in this volume.

It’s funny. This one has all the people that I loved in A Dame To Kill For and more. All kinds of action all over the place, Miho gets to really cut loose (although it could be argued that she gets to do that in Family Values), and it has probably the best ending of the series. What I can’t put my finger on is why this one isn’t my favorite of the bunch. It has all the ingredients, but it just didn’t completely blow me away in the way that some of the other volumes did. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad at all, as it’s a worthy edition to the Sin City story. It just seems like it could have been more. A couple of things bothered me, but they made sense in the story, I guess. Just kind of cliche when you look at the whole thing from the perspective of “all noir stories”. Saved from a bullet by a very obvious thing (not to give anything away) and the dead man having a conversation with him on a drive. I can’t see how the story would have progressed nearly as well without having the dead guy talk to him (it would have made for a dull car ride, that’s for sure), but… there’s just not anything in Dwight’s character so far to indicate that he would think he was talking to a dead man. It just didn’t ring true for some reason. All in all, a few minor quibbles keep this from being the best of the bunch. If you’re not as picky as I am (regarding what could be argued as a couple of very minor things to be picky about), then this could be the book that you like the best out of this series.

Miller, Frank – Sin City: Hell and Back

Listing of all his comics

Sin City: Hell and Back

Ah, the first computer revolt. I had this whole thing written, forgot to save it, and my computer locked up at some point after that when I was doing something else. Oh well. This volume is the story of a man who leaps off a cliff to save the life of a young woman trying to commit suicide and what happens to both of them after that. Wallace and Esther… not exactly names that inspire fear, but Wallace is probably the most capable of all the “heroes” in these books. It’s nice to see one of these books where the lead guy doesn’t almost die half a dozen times before the series is over with. This is also the largest of the series, clocking in at 9 issues (the longest one besides that was 6 issues, and this one also had one double-sized issue to boot). As for where this story fits in terms of quality with the rest of them, I’d have to say it’s right in the middle. For a lot of series that would be a bad thing, but there’s not a volume of this that’s anything less than slightly above average, so that still makes this a pretty damned good read.

The most disturbing thing about this volume, honestly, is all the talk that’s gone on about Frank Miller lately. I’ve heard for sure that he’s doing a Dark Knight sequel (and I mention my thoughts on it somewhere else on this page) and I’ve also heard that he’s doing more Daredevil stuff. That’s all well and good for Marvel and DC, but it sucks for anybody who’s a much bigger fan of his Sin City stuff than anything else he’s done. Sure, I liked the superhero stuff when I was younger, but I’ve outgrown almost all of that, mostly because a lot of it is just bad. Granted, this stuff will be better, but these are still guys running around in spandex. You kind of lose the ability to suspend disbelief about that sort of thing as you get older. It’s his life, and I’m sure the money is fantastic, but I think he’s making the wrong call. Unless he’s only doing this so he’ll be free to do whatever he wants with Sin City for the rest of his life, then I’ll be happy. Back to this volume. It’s always fascinating to see who you can recognize from previous Sin City volumes, and that’s certainly true for this book too. All kinds of familiar faces. There’s also a “trippy” segment that has to be seen to be believed. See if you can spot all the other characters he’s ever worked with, and it’s in color too. Like I said, not the best of these volumes, but any of them can be considered more than good enough to spend an afternoon reading.