Friday, October 13, 2006

Nerdy goodness

I hit the nerd jackpot last night with two great graphic novels, Frank Millers 300 and Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis.

300 will be getting a lot of buzz thanks to the upcoming movie. It's the story of the 300 Spartans who marched to certain death at Thermopylae. They fought the massive army of Xerxes, stopping him for awhile before his ultimate defeat a few months later. The trailer has a militaristic brutal feel to it, and some of the commenters at Crooked Timber have rolled out the fascist label. While Miller's stories are always violent, they are never fascist. His theme is the individual (Batman, Sin City's "heroes", Leonides) driven to confront overwhelming or impossible forces in the defense of what small amount of good there is in the world. For these even if something good survives, it makes their sacrifices worthwhile.

Identity Crisis is a big crossover graphic novel set in the DC universe. It involves killings that hit very close to home to the caped crusaders. These stories are about the personal cost to the heroes for many it is far too high. The liner notes highlight some interesting design choices. For example, Batman doesn't appear until halfwaythrough, Superman makes a number of dramatic appearances, Wonder Woman is never shown in full as she is too majestic to be taken in with a single image. The authors note that these are the gods of the DC world and have to be handled appropriately. The author and illustrator bring that level of analysis and craft to the whole endeavor. Check it out.

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