I feel like we just got through discussing the influences of politics on comic books and whether or not it's something that we, as readers generally want to see in our books -- and then we got our hands on a copy of Frank Miller's latest work, 'Holy Terror.'
If you're unfamiliar with Miller's latest project, then allow us to fill you in. In 2006 Frank Miller proposed 'Holy Terror' before DC Comics as 'Holy Terror, Batman!' which was supposed to set Batman up against a group of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists after witnessing and being exposed to several terrorist attacks first-hand. Halfway through Miller's 'Holy Terror,' the writer/director decided that he didn't want his book to be a Batman story.
The book we have today which was released at around the time of September 11th's ten year anniversary features 'The Fixer,' a fictional character loosely based on the interpretations of Miller's Batman. His side-kick is Natalie Stack, a cat burgler. Sound familiar? It should. Dan Donegal is Captain on the police force who sounds and looks a lot like Commissioner Gordon, too. But what was the reason why Miller decided to steer away from Batman? Why isn't this a Batman story, and is that a good thing? Is this a book Batman fans would be happy to keep separate from Bruce Wayne's continuity?== TEASER ==
I would agree with Frank Miller when he claimed that this book is a piece of propaganda. Would I call it patriotic? To an extent, but not entirely. Pitting a masked vigilante (a fictional concept) against a group of terrorists who are literally real, and actually terrorize and murder people is something difficult to wrap ones head around, but it's not entirely different than the scenes we've seen of Captain America fighting the Nazi's from Marvel's WWII era comics. The same sort of "patriotic propaganda" was utilized in those instances.
This graphic novel is not bad if you keep in mind that you are reading a piece of fictional propaganda. However, amid the interesting concepts, and Miller's gritty art and poetic writing style, this is still an incredibly offensive piece of literature; if for the sole fact that Miller basically disregards the millions of people who are Muslim that aren't terrorist and do not co-sign to a murderous, terrorist ideology.
There are things I really enjoyed about the book; primarily Miller's use of limited language. He's a minimalist who uses as few words as possible. There are moments in the book where you can feel this anger and pain that Miller must have channeled when he wrote this book; something reinforced when Miller alludes to various political pundits. The full page image alluding to Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl who was beheaded in 2002 is shocking, powerful and ultimately very effective.
The biggest problem with the book is that Miller lumps all Muslims into one category, generalizing them all as terrorists. He fails to recognize that there is a great population of devout Muslims who live peacefully, and that they are the majority. Making the terrorist hide-out a Mosque? That was pretty bold and more than a little bit offensive.
This is an example where separating real events is important to story-telling; particularly when it involves a main stream character like Batman. There's a certain stigma that carries with the character once a writer attaches his or her beliefs or opinions to the character. Just like that one time Hank Pym struck Janet Van Dyne (and has never been able to live it down); I have to wonder if Batman would be looked at differently for going on a shooting spree. Aside from the more obvious differences (Batman does use guns and he would never admit to falling in love), I'm not sure I would want a Batman comic to directly deal with these types of issues period; I just don't think that it's necessary. I don't know if that perspective should be associated with Batman's character.
Frank Miller has stated that 'Holy Terror' will be a start to a new series, so it will be interesting to see if that does eventually come about and whether or not Miller will take into consideration the reception of the book. But what do you think? Did you read 'Holy Terror'? Are you looking forward to picking up the graphic novel? Do you think this should have been a 'Batman' story?