By Frank Miller
So, after reading Frank Miller’s A Dame To Kill For, I rewatched the movie “Sin City” and then decided to read ALL the Frank Miller Sin City graphic novels. I went on a wild reserving spree at the library; the library rental system just sort of lists “Sin City Frank Miller” for each of the volumes, so I had to do scattershot holds on all the books. I ended up reserving multiple copies of some volumes and no copies of the first volume until about a month after all the rest. So, I’ve been reading them as they come, completely out of order, but I’m going to quickly review them all in order here.
Quick caveat upfront: Frank Miller is not to everyone’s taste, so while I love the comics, I can’t indiscriminately recommend them to everyone. If you don’t like broad noir stereotypes and ultra violence, it doesn’t matter how well it is done, this is not going to be for you. For the rest of us, here’s my rundown, with semi-spoilers (revealing a character is in volume 5 sort of spoils that he doesn’t die in volume 4, I guess? Although, actually, only sort of. I was reading them out of their published order, but the volumes weren’t written in strictly chronological order, either):
Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye
The first panel of the book and the series:
It doesn’t get more classically noir than that. Most noir mysteries are sweltering hot; sometimes they are bitter cold, but mostly roasting. Reading this issue last, I can tell that it was Frank Miller’s first (he is still finding his style for this series) and I can understand why it made such a splash in the comic book world. Everything is just so in-your-face: the violence, the machismo, the sex – I think it was probably unlike anything else people were reading at the time.
The Hard Goodbye is Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) story from the “Sin City” movie, the plot line with the most action but the least explanation, so I was happy to get more of the backstory this time around. With a couple of well-placed lines, The Hard Goodbye also gives a very quick overview of the origins of Sin City itself, which was most welcome after reading the other six volumes. At the end of this volume, too, I realized that The Hard Goodbye bookends at least several other volumes, with several of the subsequent volumes occurring to other characters within the span of time of this volume.
Volume 2: A Dame to Kill For
Previously read and reviewed here, inspiring this extended post.
Volume 3: The Big Fat Kill
The Big Fat Kill is Dwight’s (Clive Owen) story, starting with him in Shelly’s (Brittany Murphy) apartment while she argues with her ex-boyfriend (Benicio Del Toro). I kept thinking that I had already read this one, but then realized that it is literally the same as the movie, frame by frame, line by line. It’s really quite impressive.
It also made me appreciate the movie even more. By entwining volumes 1, 3 and 4, they made for a diverse group of characters and quick pace that the original comics seem to lack a bit in comparison.
Volume 4: That Yellow Bastard
That Yellow Bastard is the Bruce Willis/Jennifer Alba story line from the movie. This is probably the most…problematic of the Frank Miller stories (and that is saying something). Spoilers for both the book and the movie, of course: