300 GRAPHIC NOVEL review [Frank Miller/Lynn Varley]

Book Reviews
300 GRAPHIC NOVEL review [Frank Miller/Lynn Varley]
Dec 15, 1999, 03:30

300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley; Dark House Press 2000

Well, the best I can say for 300 is this: if you like the type of crap that Frank Miller has been producing for his Sin City series over the past few years, you might also like 300. 300's plot is mind-numbingly simplistic. Complacent Greece is about to be invaded by hordes of savages from Persia, led by the supposed demi-god Xerxes. All that stands between them and the Greek Empire are King Leonidas and his 300 handpicked Spartan warriors. The brutal violence and warfare of ancient Greece are logical subject matter for Miller, who regularly confuses brute force with dignity, honor, and professionalism, but the story's execution leaves a lot to be desired. Miller and Varley's art centers exclusively on repeated scenes of the horror and savagery. The story is so simplistic and its themes so overworked that you don't need to read beyond the first few pages to understand not only the entire plot but also the main point of the comic. Miller is unquestionably going for some sort of “epic” feel here. Everything's supposed to move forward with a sense of inevitability and fate. 300 falls well clear of its own mark, though, and the book's biggest contribution is the unbelievable number of different ways Miller and Varley find to show bodies being pierced by spears, crushed, and gruesomely mauled with arrows. The big point, you guessed it, those Spartans sure were tough. Tough even by Miller's standards. So tough in fact that we can't even understand it. While it's nice to see Miller branching out from Sin City, 300 in no way recaptures the spectacular success of his early work like the Dark Knight Returns or Electra: Assassin. If you really want to read something about Greek history, you'd do better to get the original version in Heroditus's Histories or, better yet, just pick up the Iliad. 300 is nothing more than an overworked and uninspired blood bath.

-Jason Cons

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