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review 2017-06-23 14:52
The Life and Death of Martha Washington
The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-first Century (Second Edition) - Dave Gibbons,Angus McKie,Frank Miller

The first time I read Give Me Liberty, it was in the late 1990s. I was working as a sales assistant in a comic specialty shop and the owner had actual copies of single issues of a very hard to find mini-series. It blew me away after I read it and I never thought how beautiful Martha Washington was, that strong female leads do make a difference then. It was then, I did not follow up any of its sequels... until the release of The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century was released, a complete chronicles of her life since birth until death.

 

Re-reading Give Me Liberty was so refreshing. If there is any thing about Martha Washington that she was born in 1995 in a ghetto so poor, that the US government housed these poor people into what was meant to be a social welfare but turns out to be a prison. From there, we get to know how smart she is with computers. Right up to the 21st century, the world that we know of is different. Its a different Earth and its a mess-up one. But do not get me wrong, I love how the creation of this universe is and with Martha Washington in it, you will understand what Give Me Liberty really means.

 

After the first series, the sequels came in (Martha Washington Goes To War, Happy Birthday Martha Washington, Martha Washington Stranded in Space, Martha Washington Saves The World & Martha Washington Dies) and what was a brilliant created universe from Frank Miller and beautifully drawn by Dave Gibbons, the same award-winning creators of DC's The Watchmen, every thing just felt spiraling down hill. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some bits and pieces of it. I can see the evolution of change in the art from the earlier days of when Give Me Liberty was published in 1990. It was much later that I felt the consistency and the beauty of the art was gone. Same goes for the sequels that felt more like fillers. Until towards the end, was it a fitting ending? Well, to me it already felt what was kept as a universe that is messed-up truly stays true and that is more than enough to enjoy reading it.

 

Martha Washington is a strong female character that truly is a rarity at that time for female leads in the comic industry then. She was the Ellen Ripley of the Alien universe - strong, brave and justifiable. Besides Wonder Woman, Martha Washington was the only female comic book character that do stands out because of her beliefs and what was written the experience and journey she went through. As the rest of the characters, not many of them stayed long. I always wonder what happen to Raggyann and it was not explained. Still, I am glad I found a copy of this and able to read her whole journey. Thank you Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons for creating such a wonderful series. Without you guys, change will never happen and Martha Washington shows us that change and righting wrong is what hope is.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-07 17:15
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Saga #1)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Lynn Varley,Frank Miller,Klaus Janson

https://bookstooge.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/batman-the-dark-knight-returns-the-dark-knight-saga-1/

 

Since booklikes ate one review, it sure as shooting can eat more.

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text 2016-04-06 17:59
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Lynn Varley,Frank Miller,Klaus Janson

When reading this book, I often imagined Frank Miller reading aloud from one of Garrison Keillor’s Guy Noir scripts to a live audience; I would listen to Miller butcher every joke in a Tom Waits-like croak, and pause to wonder at the laughter he drew from the audience in the house of the Fitzgerald Theater. A lot of Miller’s fans feel that the lighthearted take on the World’s Greatest Detective à la Adam West blatantly betrayed the character’s gothic overtones. Unfortunately, by veering so far back in the opposite direction, Miller makes the character a target for laughter just as often as the old T.V. series did, but this time without meaning to. By writing the Dark Knight in such an unironic fashion, he just goes to show why the character was so ripe for parody in the first place. A man as single-minded and uncompromising as Bruce Wayne cannot help but be brought down a little by an idiosyncratic and surprising world. A writer who wants to write the character convincingly has to treat him a little irreverently, whether through means comic or tragic. Miller’s mancrush on the Caped Crusader is so overwhelming that anyone not as childishly trusting in Wayne’s psychopathic vigilantism as he is, cannot help but cringe ever so slightly. That said, there is still enjoyment to be had from the book. Even though Miller has a blind fondness for his subject matter, the character of Batman is still compelling, and the Chandleresque hard-boiled detective prose has its moments.

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review 2016-03-17 12:56
A brutal and bleak look at The Kingpin of Crime
Daredevil: Love and War - Bill Sienkiewicz,Frank Miller

As much as I felt the last Miller book I read was overhyped, this was one that is far less well known - and fared far better.   Sometimes Miller gets it right, but he seems to want to wallow in despair and depravity.  Or at least he writes far more consistently when he does. 

 

And when he does get going?   This is a brilliant portrait of the Kingpin, a man who fits Miller's bill.   Then again, Miller elevated him from a joke into a arch nemesis worthy of Daredevil, so he modeled the Kingpin into someone who would work for him.   And he made the Kingpin work for him for a long, long time. 

 

This is a brutal and bleak look at what The Kinpin will do for his sick wife, Vanessa, and how his love for her can be used against him.   It's lushly illustrated, and it holds up very well; the man who Fisk employs to hold the doctor's wife hostage is just as twisted as the Kingpin but in a different way.   It expands this beyond a simple hostage situation that is tit for tat (the doctor's wife will be killed if Vanessa doesn't recover; the Kingpin wants the doctor to be just as desperate, just as frenzied by fear, so that he's more motivated to cure Vanessa.)

 

It's about a little more than that, and yet that's the core story.   The ending was inevitable, and beautifully done.   I'm going to walk into Miller books with a little more care, and awareness of what his forte is, and try to stick to those.   (It's depravity, by the way, just in case I didn't make that clear.)

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review 2016-03-16 21:54
Loved most of this, even though it's a hard read
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear - Frank Miller

Let me talk about what I don't like first: Elektra.   The romance, the slow build up, and the deterioration of Matt and Elektra's relationship was evocative, beautiful and heartbreaking when Miller first wrote it.   Here, he has her wild, hearing voices, and quite possibly mentally ill - or possessed - before she even meets Matt.   It's an odd choice, because it diminishes what came before, it's written by the same man, and it's not really necessary: Miller has enough to work with here that he doesn't need to include Elektra.   He makes some vague references to a war that Matt and Elektra are, but leaves that thread dangling, and he doesn't really bring the romance to any sort of conclusion: Elektra fades away, but surely not for long given how the relationship was portrayed during the first run?

 

Elektra was originally a sympathetic character: kind, a bit demure, although her backbone showed if she bristled enough.   (She was a diplomat's daughter; no doubt the demure side was the part she had to play at times.   Also, I think it was a nice counterpoint to the cold, arguably soulless, killer she became later.  By turning her into a maniac and crazy murderer, Miller only made me hate her right from the beginning.   The tragedy of Elektra was who she could have been and what circumstances and her personality turned her into at the end of her life; Miller strips away any tragedy, and replaces it with nothing other than what seems to be cheap shots, all at Elektra's expense.   The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get at her inclusion in this mini-series. 

 

The main storyline is hard to read, all about Kingpin's rise to power, which act as a counterpoint to Matt's ferocious development of his own abilities and his decisions about what to do with them.  The mob leader that Fisk works under insists that there will be no hard drugs, and no child pornography.   He might be a gangster, but he has some honor, some lines he will not cross, and furthermore his family lives where he works.   He will not turn their lives, their neighborhoods, into the hell the other mobsters present to him as a possibility for work.

 

Fisk murders his boss, takes over, and proceeds to bring child trafficking and pornography into Hell's Kitchen.   There is controversy over this: is it appropriate for a Daredevil title?   The arguments I've heard in favor is that he is a street hero, and is more likely to encounter these types of real life horrors than, say, Thor who is busy fighting off Loki, or some global danger like Thanos or Galactus.    Furthermore, someone like Thor - or Iron Man - is fairly mobile.   Globetrotting, or even fighting crime off world or in another dimension?   Check. 

 

Daredevil, however, is fairly local.   At one point, far later, people accuse him of only looking out after his own house.   Hell's Kitchen is also an incredibly poor neighborhood; the poverty and crime connection works well as far as the narrative goes.  It seems to make sense if anyone's neighborhood were plagued by crime, it would be Daredevil's and not near the mansion that Tony Stark calls home.   

 

Urban superheroes, or heroes, seem to push the edge, to encounter the real life tragedies and horrors that plague the real life.   Green Arrow's Speedy/drug use storyline was shocking at the time; comics didn't deal with drugs.   I suppose it's the same reason that Arkham Asylum and mental illness fit in so well with Batman.   (Despite being a Justice League-er, Batman does also stay very affiliated with Gotham City; he is, arguably, another street hero, working at street level.   Despite having some more fantastic villains, his dealing with Arkham and the mentally ill - Harvey Dent, The Joker, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn - fits in with street hero working at the urban level.   Then again, Green Arrow is a League-er, too, and DD was once an Avenger.   The street level heroes/urban heroes can also be part of the larger teams that deal with worldwide events, and larger threats.   I think mostly they have their own series that deal with the street level threats, though, or that's the impression that I get.)

 

So I think the storyline fits, and giving Matt a personal tie to one of the victims made sense.   (I saw that coming before it was revealed; it's pretty obvious, but the emotional impact is in no way lessened.   Matt's fear when he makes his discovery, his determination to save his friend?   That's where the real hook is.)

 

Miller could potentially have done more to show the damage this kind of criminal activity causes, but that wasn't what he really wanted to do.   He wanted to focus on the rescue, rather than the trauma, and in some way, it's a smart narrative mood.   It makes it nice and neat; he can tell the story, and he can leave Matt ready to fully take on the mantle of Daredevil.   It also turns the children, and their plight, into a kind of fridging element; their storylines and their trauma are only there to teach Matt a lesson, to galvanize him.   It's disappointing how brushed off they are at the end.   Matt doesn't even check in to see how the children are doing, and instead we end with the partnership of Nelson and Murdock - in a business sense - being formed.  

 

Again, it's a bizarre ending given the buildup of this storyline in some ways, and it leaves me questioning what Miller was doing*, much as I did with Elektra.   I'm giving this the side eye and wondering if I was just duped into Miller-fests, bolstered by the hype.    I still loved the way the connections were made, this glimpse at young Matt turning into a man named Daredevil and I loved the risks it took, all of which made sense as far as Daredevil's world goes.   

 

*Hey, Troy, you might have been right on Miller?   After my DD project and I finish some library books, I definitely need to reread The Dark Knight Strikes Again** to see if I find that overhyped, too.

 

**My former co-worker says one customer insisted he wanted The Dark Knight Strikes, an oh, yes, there totally was one before, because the one my co-worker was giving him says 'Again' and he wanted the first one!

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