I’ve always said that I prefer a crazy comic to a boring one, but Terror is certainly testing this assertion. It’s certainly not good.
Frankly, I skimmed the thing. I’ve gonna make piecemeal observations but I’m not gonna read every word this jerk wrote, and if a scene is confusing I’m moving on. I hate this, I owe like half of whatever talent I may have to the fact that I obsessively reread Ronin and Dark Knight Returns as a kid. The little tiny panels, the minimalism, the splashes of black, the pacing: God, Frank Miller’s books TAUGHT you how to be a cartoonist. I really hate this.
The good stuff in this book comes in moments. The terrorists blowing up the Statue of Liberty was dumb (and why does a xenophobic idiot like Miller care about a French statue, anyway), but it was visually astonishing. Big black planes, and the statue was all robes. Very cool.
When a terrorist is killed, he says “
aargh” and I’ve never seen strike-thru text as a way to show someone dying. That’s like Dave Sim-level word balloon brilliance right there. So at least I found something to steal ;).
The dumb stuff overwhelms the good stuff. I’m all for splattery artwork, but Miller overdoes it. There are almost no backgrounds except for the very beginning and the very end. If this had been combined with his usual crisp, clean artwork, that could give the whole thing a surreal feel, but all the splattered whiteout just reminds us that there’s nothing underneath the surface.
All the macho language really makes me understand why Grant Morrison told Frank to just join the army already. The Fixer (Batman without ears) talks like John Cena. I’m serious. Like if John Cena was kicking an Arab guy around the ring and saying “You like that, Mohammed?” and a bunch of kids in Tapout shirts were cheering that would be a lot like this comic.
I went into this comic knowing what it was gonna be, and I judge things by their own merits. I’ve written before about how much I like Doug Tennapel, and that guy isn’t exactly a progressive thinker. Holy Terror is supposed to be an offensive slap to the face of liberals who oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s fine. Comics are there to express things, and that is one possible thing that a person could choose to express. But it fails, even by its own standards.
Look, here’s how you draw THAT comic. First of all, show how the terrorists think about what they’re doing. Alan Moore gave his fascist villain a really scary little monologue in V for Vendetta, and in doing so made him more than a cardboard cutout (the guy still got killed real good, though). Dinesh D’souza’s What’s So Great About America gives a Republican-friendly description of terrorist motivations. COPY AND PASTE HIS ARGUMENTS!! Secondly, the heroes have to show a little vulnerability. Look at a Mel Gibson movie. He always wants to be a pacifist, and then bad stuff happens, and by the time he becomes a killing machine you’re rooting for him. The Fixer seems like he was born hating Arabs, probably because they don’t like hot dogs or baseball.
The book finally goes crazy enough to be interesting in the last ten pages or so. Al Qaeda’s hideout is a tech-savvy underground lair with pink floors that reminded me a little of the birdmens’ cave from the old 1940’s Superman cartoons. The Fixer kills the last of the terrorists with a horrible disease bomb “that was meant for us”, and the villain’s vicious and prolonged death scene is a guilty pleasure, hateful and satisfying. And as other reviewers have said, the last page is AMAZING (and effective).
I recommend that you do what I did. Go into a bookstore and skim it. Look at the kool artwork and ignore most of the dialogue. Just make sure that you read the ending. It’s the only time Miller’s story becomes the scary and challenging right-wing fantasy that he thinks it is. The rest of the time it’s a Dolph Lundgren movie, splattered with way too much whiteout.