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Holy Terror [Hardcover]

Frank Miller
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 11 2011
There's a deadly menace somewhere in Empire City, and The Fixer only has until dawn to save his town - and civilization as we know it! Legendary Comics presents an all-out, head-busting, bone-breaking, neck-snapping brawl of a tale from Frank Miller, one of the most celebrated storytellers of the medium. Years in the making, HOLY TERROR features the desperate and brutal quest of a hero as he is forced to run down an army of murderous zealots in order to stop a crime against humanity.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Masked Adventures of Lefty and Rightwing Dec 5 2011
Format:Hardcover
hmm... On consideration, I rather liked it! Yes, it requires consideration (and an atlas -- see below). My first reaction was less favorable, though I couldn't help feeling strangely drawn to the tortured artwork. By a literalist approach, this graphic novel gives the impression of a banally scripted revenge fantasy tethered to a skimpy plot: embodying America's post-9/11 combative urge to strike back at Someone Over There, we have "The Fixer" who in anti-heroic form will make the threatened Empire all better by busting toweled heads. The best defense is a strong offense, and The Fixer certainly knows how to take offense -- he takes it all the way to the enemy's front door.

But there's more going on here. The storytelling throughout is dense with symbolism. To read it prima facie as a propagandist slam against Islam is to vastly oversimplify its scope and I think uncharitably fails to credit its author for keener sense. Frank Miller's "Holy Terror" is political commentary delivered with a punch, a kick, an eye-gouge -- it's unrestrained Juvenalian satire at once straightforwardly damning of jihadist psychoses yet also reflecting on the erosion of democratic values as a casualty of the War on Terror, simultaneously potent as an emotively rendered memorial to the victims of a national tragedy.

The opening chase sequence maps a conspicuous geography of shadowed tenement buildings -- that's New York State outlined on page 4, events navigating toward Ground Zero. Deluged by a violent climate, Liberty's rightful place has been usurped by blind justice. Captions spun in staccato beats disclose that Empire City isn't a proxy for Gotham, it's America.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful artwork... an OK story... Oct. 9 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Frank Miller is one of the greatest comics storyteller in the United States. He's even one of the greatest in the world. But, this isn't one of his greatest work. The story of this story isn't really great, but it's entertaining. A bit simple, but entertaining none less. The strength of this story, HOLY TERROR, is the artwork. Miller deliver here a stylistic artwork in the vein of Sin city, but more sloppy. And it's great ! And work wonderfully with the kind of story.

This story is for Miller fan (fans who loved The Dark Knight Strikes again or All Star Batman and Robin the boy wonder will be please). It's not a great read (it's ok), but it's wonderful to watch !
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Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  88 reviews
229 of 288 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Final Evidence In the "Frank Miller Has Lost It" Case (SPOILERS* Sept. 30 2011
By NazzNimrod - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Although I had some reservations about the subject matter compounded by the "quality" of Frank's recent work, there's so much he's done right (albeit more than 15 years ago) in comics that I have remained willing to give him another, then another, chance to make good on his early promise.

"Holy Terror" is puerile garbage of the lowest order. Miller's "art" has devolved from his last outings (hard to imagine!), and although the earliest pages are invested with some kind of experimental energy, they are also the least comprehensible in a book that makes little sense. But at least they have a spark, even if the actions depicted are near-impossible to follow and the writing/dialogue is shameful.

I assume these early pages were done almost a decade ago, when this was originally envisioned as a Batman vehicle for Miller to funnel his 9-11 anger into. Vengeful anger may not be the best motivation to tell a story, but those emotions have fueled some powerful art in the past. This isn't one of them.

This opening sequence has "Batman" (I read it this morning and cannot even remember what the lead's name was changed to after DC declined to publish it) pursuing "Catwoman" (did this character even get a name here?) after she commits a theft. They engage in a brutal extended acrobatic/arial battle, before becoming aroused and "Batman" admits he loves her - In what world does this make sense? They appear to have (or be ready to have, who can tell?) post-battle sex when a terrorist's nail bomb goes off, catching "Catwoman" in the leg.

Apparently Miller doesn't think we readers would understand that A NAIL IN THE LEG HURTS because she keeps talking about it for what seems like four pages. I assume Miller stepped on a nail sometime around the writing of this part and was surprised at how much it hurt. There's no other explanation for this much exposition regarding such a minor detail (which is never mentioned again, btw).

In the overall scheme of things it's a distraction that stalls the story so much that the reader is taken out of the moment entirely. That this book is full of moments like that ought to be a huge source of embarrassment for both writer and editor. Furthermore, the sexual psychology of the superhero psyche is well-trodden ground that has been done to death by more talented creators than Miller. His attempt here is just embarrassing and adds nothing to the story, as both characters are ciphers, devoid of personality.

After this, it looks like Miller stopped working on the book for a while and the next part has all the bad writing, art and editing of the first, but with none of the energy. We are introduced to a mysterious Jewish character who has known the terrorist act would happen but either no one would listen or he couldn't stop it or something (??) because he walks away and is never seen again, which makes you wonder WTF he was put in at all. How do I know he's Jewish? Star of David painted on his otherwise nondescript face, of course!

I forgot to mention that two fetish-dress sword-wielding Asian girls make an appearance in this scene as well, but they also leave without having any impact on the story, which again, makes you wonder why they are here. Of course, they may have wandered in from a 1987 Zalman King Skinemax fantasy vignette or Sin City - either is as likely as the other.

Finally the last part of the book, which one presumes was finished after Miller's Spirit movie bombed and his Flash Gordon movie reboot was canned by the studio, leaving little options for income but to finish this mess. I'm guessing the anniversary of 9-11 was looming and someone told him to wrap the book or he'd never see the rest of the advance.

The ending makes the first two parts look like a meticulously structured Shakespeare epic -it's THAT BAD. The heroes(?) end up in battling Jihadists in Al Quaeda's UNDERGROUND SECRET HEADQUARTERS! It's like Miller was channeling his 80's Batman for the first part of the book, but then switched to 60's TV Batman, with all the trappings of outlandish, personality-less minions and tilted panels.

Who edited this? Obviously no one, because this is an unrestrained ego cranking out a hackjob - with no regard for the reader, story, art or even page to page flow.

A colorist is credited, but, like many of Miller's recent books this is a B&W book - but with some spot reds this time! This color scheme has been used effectively in say, the Grendel comics, but here it's overuse only serves to distract from the story - leaving the reader wondering "why are 'Catwoman's' boot soles red while the rest of the page is black & white?

Also, what's up with all of the portraits scattered throughout the book? The original use - showing the losses of innocents is cliche, but tolerable. After that, they become nonsensical - as various political figures are mixed with (terrible) drawings of nobodies (at least as far as the story is concerned). I guess it fills space...

To Sum Up:

The writing and plotting is trite and insulting. Miller's phony-baloney "hard-boiled noir" style is the work of a deluded creator - it's so hackneyed that it stops the story instead of propelling it.

Miller's artwork has degenerated to the point that it seems to be an afterthought - while I appreciate that it's highly stylized, it shouldn't be so stylized as to fail to tell the story. It looks like there are panels that Miller spilled ink on, and rather than re-draw them, he just brushed it over most of the panel underneath. This is laziness, not an effective way to tell a story.

Overall, there are so many things that should have been fixed but were left in that the book unfolds like an FU to readers/victims who are left with the feeling that Miller & his publisher have so little respect for them that the content doesn't matter.

I assume the publishers were well-aware of the quality of the book and published it as an expensive (but slight) hardcover in order to take advantage of Miller's aging fanbase before word of mouth entirely kills sales. No one could read this and think it would've been published if it wasn't by Miller. And if someone else had done this, you'd never had heard of it...

This is putrid - another black mark on Miller's once-promising career, and the last work of his I'll be picking up. Avoid at all costs.
106 of 150 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If Miller can't care you should not care Oct. 1 2011
By Veese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Be forewarned. The only reason to purchase this worthless mess is to see just how far Miller has sunk to the depths of madness and contempt.

Originally I was compiling a lengthy review of "HOLY TERROR" covering story, plot, etc. but realized this horrendous tomb was not worth any more effort on my behalf than Miller exhibited on any page of this book.

Like others here I am in total agreement that this is not only Frank Miller's worst output in his storied career, this is an example of Miller's contempt for the Graphic Novel genre and any audience his work is intended for. No matter if you are a fan of his work dating well back into the `80s (Daredevil, Dark Knight) as I was or a potential reader completely new and curious about the "controversial" 911 subject matter, Miller has delivered nothing less than a punch in the face and kick to the groin of anyone who pays to suffer through this utter garbage.

I use the word "contempt" for the genre and audience because this is a creator who has professed over and over his influence and mentor in comics has always been Will Eisner. Eisner was one of the most respected proponents, teacher even of comic book or graphic novel storytelling. Miller spits in the face of every rule here and you can't even defend he does so for some sort of artistic "voice" or groundbreaking storytelling advantage. Even the most hardcore fan of Miller's work will struggle to get through the story and decipher action on many, many pages.

I'm not offended by a "plot" centered around a superhero (Fixer/really Batman) avenging himself against a 911 terrorist attack, I'm talking about obvious lack of engagement between creator and reader and even creator and his own vision. Since Miller toiled on this mess for over a decade you can literally pinpoint the pages in the book where he went from having some sort of artistic vision in his mind and look for the book, stopped, walked away, came back worked a bit more stopped again and then years later just wanted to get the thing done and absolutely hacked out the majority of the second half. I bet Miller wrote and drew the last third of this book within this year and most of the final pages were completed weeks before this book saw print. It's just stunning how poorly even by Miller's simple black and white, blocky ink swipe style how bad this book looks. He doesn't even spot blacks or use any sort of contrast in the last half. It's there in the beginning ala Sin City, then just gone. It's simple open line art packed with pages and pages of panels with ugly head shots. And the dialog...beyond insulting to any level of intelligence.

So here is how one can imagine how this mess came to be. In 2001 Miller was so angry about the 911 attack in NYC that he had an idea for a story where a fictional alter ego tracks down and gets revenge on those that did us harm. He began work with a passion, gave up, eventually walked away from his then publisher DC Comics for assorted reasons and dropped the idea for some time. When it came time to finish it and collect a paycheck, he started up again but clearly had lost any form of passion or idea of where he was going with it. It didn't matter, he hacked it all out and the joke is on those of us dumb enough to pay for this abuse.

Had to select one star but really give it ZERO stars. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Holy Terror, Batma... er, "Fixer"! Oct. 8 2011
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book was originally a Batman story and it's easy to see how as the book opens with "Cat Burglar" being chased by "the Fixer" across rooftops a la just about every Catwoman/Batman story there's been, and it's equally easy to see why DC turned Frank Miller down for the use of the "goddamn Batman".

Explosions rock the city and buildings fall down - Cat Burglar and Fixer witness this and immediately chase up suspects, all of them al-Qaeda terrorists (there is some real world input throughout) via the Police Chief who looks remarkably like Jim Gordon, and bring them all to justice before they achieve their coup de grace at midnight - blowing up the entire city!

Frank Miller doesn't really seem to have a message for this book except pointing out that Islam has some truly despicable practices such as burying women up to their necks in sand and throwing rocks at their heads and making women wear tent-like clothing covering every inch of their bodies and then, behind closed doors, having their husbands beat them senseless. Obviously this doesn't apply to most Muslims but the practice of stoning is still used today and just by inserting them into the story with no further comment, Miller seems to be using those examples as justification for the way Fixer and Cat Burglar use torture to extract information from the terrorists.

It's clear Miller sides with the way the US government has conducted the war on terror. He seems to be saying that the terrorists started it, they hit us so we hit back, and that the terrorists' extremism makes them different from other humans in the way they should be treated. No time is taken to discuss why terrorists might feel this way towards the West, simply that their religion forces them to be this way - a quote at the start of the book reinforces this view: "Kill the infidel" - Mohammed. And the dedication at the back - to Theo Van Gogh, murdered in the street by being stabbed dozens of times by an Islamic extremist - makes clear Miller's idea of Islam.

Judged from a political standpoint, I'd say it's up to the reader. No doubt some would argue Miller has a point with his views that Islam is a religion stuck in the past (the subjugation of women is central to this argument), and others would say this is the work of an ultra-conservative nutjob. After all, the core of this book is nothing but pure vengeance against a group of people and that smacks of the worst legacy that the 20th century left us.

Judged solely as a comic book I'd say the book is a disappointment as the story is barely together, the characters mere shadows of their more famous inspirations, and the art is so shoddy as to be completely indecipherable in places. It's a disappointment because this is a man who played a central part in comic books being taken seriously as literature, the man who reinvented Batman with "The Dark Knight Returns" and who created a visionary and unique series in "Sin City" as well as stunning albums like "300". With "Holy Terror" the things that made Frank Miller the respected artist he is today are absent in this book and in their place is a one-sided seething rage against the terrorism and violence of the 21st century, almost propaganda in a way.

I would say fans of Frank Miller will read this but wind up disappointed while from the sheer bombast of the story, the book will no doubt garner attention from the press and become an event book of the year for infamous reasons, but ultimately am I recommending this book? No; if anyone other than Frank Miller wrote this I don't think it'd even be published. But then that's the only reason people will read this, because it's written by one of the greats, albeit one on the downturn of his illustrious career. It's a shame Miller didn't try to make a more thoughtful book instead of the shallow, hate-filled tract it became.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars People just humped on the Frank Miller hate wagon Oct. 24 2013
By J. Gatsby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Alright, so unlike pretty much everyone else on the planet I don't hate this book. In fact, I rather like Holy Terror. I certainly don't consider it Frank Miller's best work, but it's still very in line with the rest of his resume. Now, the main complaints against this book are that it is Islamophobic, which I can understand that being people's gut reaction and taking it at face value, but it's still an ignorant opinion to hold. The argument that the book doesn't distinguish between the jihadists and regular Muslims is a weak one, that's not a fact that doesn't need to be spoon-fed to people, of course nearly two billion people aren't the terrorists that their radical brothers and sisters are. Miller himself in more than one interview states that his hatred is squarely on Al Qaeda, not the Muslim faith, a religion he freely admits that he knows "squat" about. So any claims to the contrary are unfounded. We live in a world where Captain America repeatedly knocks out a played up Hitler on stage to a musical number, and you don't have to be told that not all Germans were/are Nazis. Where in near every spy movie the villains are some megalomaniacal Russian with plans to nuke or start a war with the United States, and we don't have to be told that not all Russians are crazy and hungry for war. And again the Russians are the enemies in many a video game, with the player gunning down hundreds in the course of a campaign in Call of Duty or Battlefield and nobody bats an eye. But heaven forbid Frank Miller writes a story where the bad guys are Al Qaeda.
Some people hold the theory that whenever Frank Miller writes Batman, he does so imagining that there's a bit of him under the cowl. I can believe that to a certain extent, but when it comes to the hero of this book, The Fixer, there is no doubt of my mind that he is Frank Miller, or at least what he wishes he could do. He's gruff, strong, handy in a fight, has sex on rain-soaked rooftops, and most importantly, he puts a lot of bullets into a lot of terrorists. I cannot stress enough that while Miller doesn't hate Muslims, he does hate Al Qaeda, he wants them all to burn in Hell, he's said so himself. It plays a large part in what drives this book, rage. It's raw, uncensored, and chock full of emotion. Miller doesn't pull any punches, he states what he feels, he doesn't play fair, and he doesn't take a balanced approach, this is a tale told from the specific point of view of an angry man in a mask taking revenge against those who dared to attack the city he loves.
As a final note, I do have to say that the art in Holy Terror is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it can be beautiful and chock full of his distinctive style, the opening panels of the story and the chase between the Fixer and the cat burglar Natalie Stack being a perfect example, where else in other panels the art just isn't that great. I wouldn't say that Miller rushed the art in this book, as many others have said, but I am willing to say that he didn't devote the time he needed to in some areas, which is just a damn shame.
19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Angry Book Oct. 10 2011
By Man of La Book - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Holy Ter­ror" by Frank Miller is a new graphic novel which has our heroes fight­ing Al-Qaeda. The book was writ­ten after 9/11 and it feels like it.

The book intro­duces The Fixer chas­ing after cat bur­glar Natalie Stack, if you're think­ing Bat­man and Cat­woman you got it right. After they beat each other up the blood filled intro­duc­tion ends.

Then ter­ror strikes in Empire City, The Fixer and Stack go on a rage fueled mis­sion after those responsible.

To say that "Holly Ter­ror" by Frank Miller is an angry graphic novel would be an under­state­ment. In a recent inter­view Mr. Miller said that he hopes the book will "really piss peo­ple off", I think he achieved his goal.

This is a wrath­ful book and it seems like it was writ­ten right after 9/11 when the nation was in an ass-kicking mood, Miller's rage towards Al-Qaeda is lit­er­ally spilling off the pages. How­ever, ten years later the book is some­times funny, some­times dis­turb­ing, yet sim­plis­tic and could cer­tainly be inter­preted as hate­ful. That being said, a lit­tle of Mr. Miller's sto­ry­telling genius shines through.

"Holy Ter­ror" was orig­i­nally sup­posed to be a story about Bat­man, but even for Bat­man this book is far too vio­lent. But the two main char­ac­ters, The Fixer and cat bur­glar Natalie Stack, rep­re­sent Bat­man and Cat­woman, they have dif­fer­ent names and look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but there really is no mis­tak­ing who they're sup­pose to be.

As in many of his books, Mr. Miller tells a sub­tle story, allows the book to breath in between pan­els and cer­tainly makes strong state­ments about world pol­i­tics with few, if any, words.

The art, in Milleresque style, works only for the first quar­ter of the book. It seems to me that the last three quar­ters or so of the book the art became sloppy. The dia­log, some bril­liant, some ridicu­lous but mostly pro­pa­ganda, which, in my opin­ion, is about a decade too late.

My prob­lem with the book is that it crosses a fine line. The book infers, inten­tion­ally or not, that Al-Qaeda rep­re­sents Islam. That's like say­ing that the Ku Klux Klan rep­re­sents Chris­tian­ity. Both groups have aspects of their reli­gion in their hate­ful pro­pa­ganda but I would say that the vast major­ity of Chris­tians I met dur­ing my life despise the KKK. The mes­sage in the book, crys­tal clear by the way, is not con­vinc­ing, not bal­anced with weak reasoning.

Frank Miller is a won­der­ful artist and an intel­li­gent writer, but this book felt as if a Miller fan wrote it, not the man him­self. The art is all over the place, some pages are absolutely bril­liant, while some are just a mass. How­ever, with all its pos­i­tives, this is an over­sim­pli­fied book with a resent­ful message.

There are a few exam­ples which are obvi­ous, The Fixer calls the ter­ror­ists "Mohammed" because "you've got to admit that the odds are pretty good it's Mohammed". The name is short­ened to Moe later on in the book. A dis­turb­ing page con­trasts Amer­i­can watch­ing a Transformers-like movie vs. Arabs ston­ing a woman to death while curs­ing her.
As if these are two dif­fer­ent types of entertainment.

I have read this book on a com­puter through a pre­view gal­ley I got. I haven't decided yet if I want to pick up the printed ver­sion. Maybe I'll see some­thing I didn't on the computer.

The book is ded­i­cated to slain Dutch film­maker Theo Van Gogh (1957 - 2004). Mr. Van Gogh, great-grand son of the brother of the famous painter, was mur­dered by Islamic extrem­ists for mak­ing a movie about the treat­ment of women in Islam.
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