Holy Terror Hardcover – Oct 11 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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 !
This book was such a disappointment, a pathetic political rant, with an even more pathetic story line. I understand that we come to expect high things from great creators and that some will be below par, but this is awful, stay away and go back to his best work, Ronin, The Dark Knight and Hard Boiled.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"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.
I consider myself to be a liberal. I'm not the natural bedfellow of, say, American Republicanism. I'm all for justice, liberty, freedom of speech, of thought, of action, and equality. I'm against war and the misuse of power and privilege. I support women's rights. I support gay rights. I'm a secularist, a humanist and an atheist. I think that part of a Government's job is to look after its most vulnerable citizens (whether they are indigenous or not). I am not given to right wing indignation. I don't think I truly "hate" anyone or anything (although now and again I will use the word without meaning it in its true sense).
But I live a fairly middle class existence in a fairly ok neighbourhood in a fairly ok city in England's North West. To my recollection I have never experienced real hardship and I certainly haven't had my neighbourhood attacked by remorseless terrorists, with no care for their own lives let alone the lives of other people. I can try to imagine how I might feel were such a thing to happen, but it would never come close to the real thing. If a New Yorker were to tell me he hated Muslims, I might think that it was an unfair generalisation but I certainly wouldn't argue with his reasons. I might try gently to encourage some understanding, explain that not all Muslims are terrorists or even supportive of those actions in much the same way that not all Catholic priests are child molesters (but if, as a child, you were abused by a Catholic priest you might, understandably, hate all priests).
Something curious happened in the aftermath of 9/11. Many on the left started to attack the attacked. Thousands died, thousands more had their lives devastated. An entire country mourned. To pretend to understand what that was like when you're on the outside looking in is, at best, disingenuous. Many claimed that the USA had no "right" to seek redress. Suddenly, America and her allies were on a "crusade" against the Muslim East. Hate for terrorism became "Islamophobia" . Muslims were the REAL victims of 9/11. George Bush was evil. America and her allies were only interested in oil. The West was the warmonger, the provoker, the tyrant. For a while, I swallowed this rhetoric too. I saw the apologists on television, repeating the mantra "this isn't representative of mainstream Islam" and figured they had a good point. Not all Muslims are terrorists.
Of course, that's true. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not even most Muslims are terrorists. But the fact is that if you pick up your newspaper tomorrow and read about a terrorist bomb killing dozens, chances are it'll be Muslims who carried it out and it's a further fact that, after such an atrocious act, you will not find Muslims marching through the streets of the West condemning their Muslim brothers and sisters for killing innocent people. What you will find though is mobs of rage filled Muslims in Muslim countries burning American flags, rioting and calling for Jihad. Where are the silent majority and why are they silent? Perhaps the final page of Holy Terror can go at least some way to explaining that - a tribute to the murdered Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh.
Holy Terror has been criticised for making no effort to explore the intricacies of Islam, to distinguish between Joe Muslim and Osama Bin Laden. I remember similar criticisms of movies like Black Hawk Down (all Africans are savages) and Saving Private Ryan (WW2 was won by the USA - where were the British?), and for me it's a straw man argument and typical of the leftish representation of anything anti-terror as being bigoted, racist and imperialistic. Holy Terror is not an examination of Islam, nor is it an evaluation of a civilisation. Holy Terror is a story told from a specific point of view, of two people caught up in a terrorist atrocity and, being able, the action they take as revenge for it. Miller doesn't HAVE to be balanced, he doesn't HAVE to be fair. If you want balance, go buy a history textbook.
Holy Terror is hate filled and biased and offensive. It has to be. These things have been used as criticism but for me they are the reasons it works and the reasons I'm glad to have read it. It doesn't pussy foot. It doesn't apologise. Miller goes for the throat in a rabid, rage-fuelled attack on the elements of Islam that DESERVE to be attacked. The subjugation of women. The hypocrisy of benefitting from what the West offers but at the same time claiming to hate and despise it and, ultimately, trying to destroy it. The violent and merciless action against Western targets and innocent people. Miller picks these things on purpose and goes at them full tilt. The artwork is raw, the language pointed. The depiction of Muslim terrorists is extreme and caricatured. The allusion to America (Empire City) being infiltrated by extremists already is strong. The idea that Islamist sympathisers hold high office is also apparent. This work is not subtle. It's like a hammer to a kneecap.
The reason, I think, that this is the ONLY way that this could have been done is explained on the very last set of panels. A city crippled by fear - not necessarily of bombs and violence, but of causing offense. The idea is very strongly put that people are so scared of offending Muslims (and of the consequences of such actions - if you have any doubt, look at Theo Van Gogh, look at the Danish cartoonists), that everyone is overly polite and deferential to Muslims and to Islam. If we just leave them alone, maybe they won't blow us up. So we won't insult The Prophet (PBUH), we won't criticise the way Saudi Arabia won't let women drive. We won't criticise the mobs for burning our flags. It is, after all, their culture. I can't subscribe to this view. It's censorship. And when politicians and "community leaders" are too spineless to challenge this censorship, thank God for Frank Miller and those like him who will, because that's what Holy Terror does. It says "I won't respect you, Islam. I won't censor my own pen for fear of offending you. In fact, I WANT to offend you. And you need to grow up and join the 21st Century".
I enjoyed it. I thought it was needed. I'm glad Miller created it.
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.
The art is totally incomprehensible. The characters are nothing more than a retread of Dark Knight Returns + All Star Batman and Robin. The dialogue is repetitive, and to be honest, it was so boring and hard to following in the ten pages, that I don't even know if it gets better.
Tedious artwork. Pass on this one and thank me later. Even the most devout Frank Miller disciples with have a tough time defending this one.
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