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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  84 reviews
223 of 281 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.
104 of 148 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.
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.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Actually Kind of Liked it... as a Guilty Pleasure Nov. 21 2011
By Nicholas J. Nuttall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When I finished Holy Terror, I didn't know how to feel. It's not Frank Miller's best; but, it is experimental, artistic, and kind of a guilty pleasure. I'm not going to focus on the misrepresentation of Islam, because I don't see it. They don't go around beating up random Muslim people, and their shouts of rage are purely emotional, not based on actual research of the religion. And also, this is a comic book! He said it was going to be propaganda! That stuff never has been about fair representation! Anyways, onto the review.

So, Frank has always been an experimental guy, and I can appreciate that. His art has gotten much simpler in an attempt to emulate Jack Kirby, which I like. In this book, there is some gorgeous play on the black and white colors. So few comics do it today, that it's always interesting when one attempts this. At times the art is quite sub-par; the black and white hinders at times because of how limited the color scale is, and we can't tell what's going on. Something I do like here is Miller's "color splash," where he adds a single color to one part of the page. They are all neon-off colors like pink, green, and orange. They bring clarity to some of the action and, like I said, it's experimental. I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff. Also, my cousin brought up the issue of the "fish-face" several of the characters have; I can see where he got that from, but it didn't bug me too much.

The characters are just Batman expies, I'm going to be very open about that. There is a difference in that "the Fixer" uses guns and has his own reasons for being a crime-fighter. "Natalie Stack" plays completely to the Catwoman archetype, and the story is told from her perspective. This interested me, because Frank Miller hasn't written women very well in the past; he's always been able to write the dark, crazy Batman. Why not write the book from his perspective? Well, Natalie is not written as a particularly... promiscuous character. Not to say that she's well-defined, both of these "heroes" are kind of childish. It's fun and interesting, but kind of strange to read with such graphic artwork. The villains... their villains. Like, stereotypical. Don't expect any depth in them.

The plot doesn't have a clear arc, meaning that the climax does not have much of an impact. It doesn't feel finished at the end, as the falling action was very short and seemed to be cut off mid-sentence. The terror attacks occurred right next to each other, and while some pages provide a really effective perspective on the effects of the attack, others are muddled by some really questionable artwork; once again, the black and the white of Miller's ink can really get in the way of things. It is a fairly fun mad-scientist plot and there is the hilarious moment where we meet "David." I leave that for you to look into. I'm not going to point out any outright flaws in Miller's writing, because I don't know much about Islam myself (but do have great respect for the religion).

This book is definitely not worth $20. However, it is enjoyable in its experimentation and outright silliness. Purchase it when the price goes down if you like post-2000 Miller art, and if you want a short, somewhat enjoyable read. Don't blast it until you have read it, please, and don't buy it if you find something you don't like here. I guess that all I can say for this is... everything has an audience. And I just happened to be that group that reads it as a guilty pleasure.
19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Masked Adventures of Lefty and Rightwing Dec 5 2011
By cyberfox29 - Published on Amazon.com
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. Our cowled crusaders aren't mere stand-ins for Gotham's nocturnal players but are symbolic of larger entities: the militant Right is engendered in a quasi-fascist vigilante taking unilateral action, blunt as a fist; the wounded nation's Left is personified as a sometime burglar of the public purse and flighty bitch [sic] who shouldn't forget how she cried and cried when the Empire's towering legs were nailed by a terrorist act -- something like that. Authority meets Liberalism, per respective costuming. Initially communicating in savage grunts (is this what partisan discourse has been reduced to?), their relationship is adversarial yet ultimately conjoined, as effected in romantic dallying. To my reckoning, these political representatives are more attuned to DC's "Hawk and Dove" (the 1988 gender-revised team) than simple substitutes for Batman and Catwoman.

Textually minimalist (mostly), the book's many arresting images unspool like a portfolio of political cartoons strung in sequence to pantomime an essay. Snapshot caricatures paint a range of reactions to the terrorist attack: the Mujahideen basking in a flurry of WTC ashes; Arab crowds in defiant celebration; President G.W.Bush, morose; Michael Moore depicted as a snide opportunist; Dick Cheney, ornery (/no change); Karl Rove brimming with fiendish designs; Saudi royalty outwardly saddened, a suggestive partial fingerprint blemishing his image. As Ariel Sharon worries of regional conflagration newly poised at Israel's doorstep, one cleric is seen denouncing the attack, another calling for jihad while clips of the atrocity replay in media (or in memory) with numbing frequency.

Among the gallery of full-page spreads, there's America (reproduced on the back cover, rotate 45 degrees for geometric approximation) as the strained linchpin of world order, mistargeted "shock and awe" raining hell on Baghdad, boots on the ground "playing their cards" in cartoonish prowling and networking through neighbouring territory (reminiscent of WWI flying ace Snoopy skulking across occupied countryside in "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"), followed on the reverse page by army forces vaulting into southern Afghanistan, hands straddling the Pakistani border (made to resemble a scraggly corrugated cable) -- consult aforementioned atlas.

Read between the lines to decode the dialogue's ingenious duality. The visited "rusty old factory" is Israel; the "beautiful Asian twins" are its polar feuding tenants, with American diplomacy caught in the middle, wary of being "cut in half at any second." See your atlas again: the negative space composing that panel looks fashioned after pre-1967 borders, the Star of David "spook" tracing the West Bank representing God ("...they'd die for Him, if they weren't so busy killing for Him"). Suddenly, every banal line swells pregnant with hidden meaning, every ambiguous pronoun thrown into question. While the title "Holy Terror" plays tongue-in-cheek as a parodying 1960's Batman camp exclamation, it also mirrors the earnest title of Terry Eagleton's 2005 non-fiction book, an investigative analysis of the theological roots of terrorism. The Fixer's reference to "something Biblical at midnight" would be global Armageddon ("...don't press the Red Button or we're all dead"). The story's closing act becomes an "Apocalypse Now"-type fantastical journey into the heart of darkness for a final confrontation. Spartan helmets -- ghosting ancient trophies of Roman-Persian wars -- mark a path to the Underworld ("the city below") as the paradise of Al-Qaeda ambition, whose "upside down" ideological fatalism is spawned of Evil, "an organism so vast as to be beyond belief"; that farcical IRA fugitive dropping hellish metaphors with mad abandon would be the Devil, eager to collect on mass murder, indifferent to whose or their philosophies.

The book's moral perspective isn't entirely one-sided as Miller proves unapologetic in lambasting fundamentalism of various stripes. A rogue F18 fighter jet seen destroying Justice (striking at the heart of tabula ansata) is no foreign attacker but the immediate consequence of neocon policies having hijacked the law for the sake of expediency on the preceding page, symbolized by a stolen police car in which The Fixer is shown to "hear voices", dually suggesting a radio earpiece and/or religious delusion matching the purported evangelical motivations for GWB's invasion of Iraq. The barbarism of Sharia law is cast beside the military fetishism of American culture, where adolescent accolades ("kewl!") at a "Transformers" screening bring to mind the public titillation over embedded TV news coverage riding shotgun on the warpath rolling into Baghdad. A seemingly misplaced portrait of relative non-participant Sarah Palin contrasts Western social opportunity versus brutal misogyny on offer in the Eastern corner of the same page.

As far as accusations of bigotry go, I don't see that Miller is dramatizing anything in this work that doesn't reflect the reality of lacerating statements that were regularly expressed by Western voices in the aftermath of 9/11. Saved for posterity, I still have a complete weekend edition newspaper from September 15, 2001. It's a strange artifact to revisit with hindsight: its block-font headlines ring grave with solemnity, article writers throughout struggle to collect their thoughts even as politicians sketch battle plans, and editorializing everywhere palpably shudders with raging venom, impatient to exact retribution, post-haste, irrespective of target -- we're not too picky, "Moe"; I think it's sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that the wrong country was hastily invaded. Drafted toward that end, the Left here becomes complicit by Cat Burglar's "I'm down with that," if elsewhere qualifying, "Don't get used to it."

Embracing risk, Frank Miller's heavily stylized art affects mixed feelings. His brush in the opening half is hyper-expressionistic, emotionally ragged and bolting with the murderous intensity of story events, barely a gentle line in sight. That's not ink spilled across the pages, it's spilt blood. Silhouetted forms are assaulted by a frenetic downpour of whiteout swipes closely resembling real-life crime scenes where mutilated corpses have been unceremoniously dragged across a surface, scoring an abrasion trail of smeared gore. I expect this visual analogy was Miller's aim, with blood-spatter detritus, ashen glove-print blotches and busily swarming boot tracks defacing the layouts, as if these pages of art were forensic evidence recovered from the investigation of a grisly massacre -- namely, that of pre-9/11 America. Miller's technique through this section appears deliberately inelegant in its blotting escalation: he wants the ugliness kept raw, unchoreographed and frustrating, the skies raining a literal storm of blood. It's all very "performance art" in its execution, the two heroes almost like contemporary dancers taking a series of crumpled poses, battered and demolished as the twin towers; meanwhile, the avante-garde inking made to mimic ruination provokes the desired visceral response: its unattractiveness utterly infuriates the eye much as the historical event depicted.

The aesthetic is vastly improved in later pages unmarred by that precipitous noise, particularly in artful compositions toward the end, though the book becomes very thin by then, its abbreviated pacing feeling out of balance against the overlong opening hellstorm. For all the critical hullabaloo regarding its jingoistic plot, the story sees surprisingly little combat action. There's a quickie four-page conflict halfway though, then another small round of terrorist-squashing ballet in a symbolically realized bloodbath drawing to the climactic finish. Readers anticipating an orgy of vertebrae-snapping brutality on par with Sin City's extruded sadism may be disappointed at just how fleeting this material feels by comparison.

A number of reviewers have complained that it's hard to discern what's happening in the art, but I found this to be an issue only in one panel which questionably portrays a man in profile being electrically tortured, perhaps framed within a map of Kuwait. Given reports that terrorist suspects were interrogated at secret torture sites within accommodating Arab states, Miller may be obscuring its depiction precisely to suspend clarification on those allegations, the art forcing us to wonder what exactly is transpiring there (both abroad and in-panel). Another page features a woman's scarlet shoe scaled impossibly large amid the wreckage of the WTC towers; presumably this piece is an abstract study on the phrase "waiting for the other shoe to drop" (viewed in past-tense) as was nationally felt once the first tower came crashing down, earlier represented by a breathlessly gasping image of Not-Catwoman falling. Yes, this brand of layered sophistication is gunning for the high Art literati (be forewarned, fanboys). But why are the soles of her boots colored red everywhere, their tread pattern vaguely avian? Is it just to facilitate visual identification? Some cautionary statement relating to fallen empires (evoking bristled Roman headgear)? Hijacked airplanes? Bloody political footprints? ...Louboutin footwear??

My main complaint -- apart from such purposed obfuscation in much of the symbolism -- is that the book's landscape format is sometimes confusing where inconsistently assigning two standard comic book pages to a single horizontal spread with nothing in the arrangement to separate them, making it difficult to determine the reading order of panels. The semi-gloss paper is also fairly flimsy as pages buckle disposably while peeling through them in this wide format, although packaging the ugliness on higher quality stock might somehow compromise the message.

FYI: "Amina" = Arabic name meaning "honest, faithful". The mother of the prophet Mohammed.

Dare I suggest an identity for that shrouded figure being clobbered toothless on the book's cover? "You've got to admit the odds are pretty good it's..." Yep, boldly depicted front and center, akin to the cheekily masked workaround in the infamous "South Park" episode. Deny everything, Frank.
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