Geoff Darrow's stunning artwork clearly marks this work as a celebration of Japan's bouyant visual culture and inventive spirit, and Frank Miller clearly enjoyed penning this tale; yet his script, while crediting Japan's fighters with dignity and honor and its leaders with the humilty to recognize the need to call upon the USA for assistance, simultaneously belittles the Japanese nation's prowess. It is difficult to interpret Miller's treatment of Rusty the Boy Robot as anything other than a dismissive swipe at Tezuka's trademark creation Tetsuwan Atumo (aka Astro Boy), at the same time that Big Guy is a swipe of the Japanese-originated concept of the piloted robot that Miller nationalistically appropriates as a symbol of US power. This makes for a jarring reading experience. But the combination of Japanese setting along with Darrow's amazing artwork that is so clearly indebted to the spirit of manga (via Moebius) makes the book an homage to Japanese popular culture in spite of the narrative's contorted distortions.
Perfect timing! Dark Horse has just published The Life and TImes of Martha Washington in the 21st Century, which collects the complete Martha Washington saga by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons. Created over a period of twenty years starting in the late 80s with Give Me Liberty, this story is set in an early 21st century America that is splitting at the seams and headed towards civil war. Sound familiar? Now's your chance to see what today looked like from the vantage point of a quarter century (or so) back. All 560 pages of the saga are here + a 40 page scrapbook of preliminary sketches, thumbnail layouts, promo posters and more, making for a 600 page collection that's value priced.
Hardboiled put Geoff Darrow on the comics map. This collaboration with Frank Miller is totally over the top and has influenced every artist working in this territory/vein ever since. Both at the level of detail and the level of violence, Hardboiled is completely bonkers. Together these aspects combine to create a truly biting satire of America. Now collected in hardcover for the first time (in North America). Another timely re-release from Dark Horse. This edition has been entirely recolored by Dave Stewart, whose went for a somewhat darker/subdued look and the color more modulated/nuanced as compared to the original, bolder coloring by Claude Legris. Some will prefer this version, others will prefer the original, but they're both good!