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“Stay smart. Stay cool. It’s time to prove to you’re friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying. Sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people.” – Dwight McCarthy
“THE BIG FAT KILL”
Volume 3 might be my favorite of the Sin City graphic novels so far! Frank Miller’s “The Big Fat Kill” continues the story of Dwight McCarthy (from “A Dame to Kill For”), as he’s once again pulled into treacherous game of life and death. This one has some of my absolute favorite panels, lines, and character moments in the entire series.
Seriously, just look at that art!
Shellie (the barmaid from Kadie’s) is being harassed by her old fling, Jack and his buddies who show up unannounced at her apartment. Thankfully, her new boyfriend, Dwight McCarthy, just so happens to be there at the time, and proceeds to shove Jack’s head in a toilet, nearly drowning him, and warning him away. Dwight decides to follow Jack and his guys. Shellie tries to stop Dwight, but he doesn’t hear her warning.
Jack and his goons decide to head to Old Town where they start harassing a young prostitute, Becky. Dwight shows up just in time to see Gail and her warrior women circling like vultures, ready to dish out some vengeance on the scumbags. Dwight tells Gail, “They haven’t killed anybody I know about. It got pretty bad, back at Shellie’s place, but they didn’t kill anybody.”
Gail responds confidently, “And they won’t.”
We then get the return of Miho, ‘deadly little Miho’, who jumps into action, slicing off Jack’s hand, quickly dispatching his cronies with ease! Miho causes Jack’s gun to backfire into his forehead before finishing him off. Dwight tells us: “She doesn’t quite chop his head off. She makes a Pez dispenser out of him.”
Soon after Dwight finds ‘an atom bomb’ – what Shellie was trying to warn him about: Jackie-Boy was a cop! It turns out there’s a shaky truce between the Basin City police and the ladies of the night, and this incident could put it all in jeopardy!
In an attempt to stop a war between the cops, the mob, and the ladies of Old Town, Dwight decides to try and hide the bodies in the tar pits, asking for “a hardtop with a decent engine. And make sure it’s got a big trunk!”
After a really intense run-in with a patrol cop, Dwight makes it to the tar pits where he’s attacked by a squad of Irish mercenaries with lots of guns and grenades! Dwight gets his ass saved by Miho at the last second, and the two head back to Old Town with a plan to use Jack’s head as a bomb. It all culminates in an epic bloody showdown between the corrupt cops and Gail’s Valkyries as they corner them in an alleyway before mowing them all down…
We even get a clever homage to the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, funneling the Persians into the Hot Gates, which is extremely cool when you realize this came out before Miller created “300”!
While “The Big Fat Kill” is an absolute rollercoaster of a ride, my one big complaint this time around is Frank Miller’s apparent obsession with swastikas and fascist imagery. You could argue his reasoning for using the symbol, with Miho’s swastika shuriken and then later her killing of a Neo-Nazi could be seen as symbolizing the reclaiming of the original symbol and it’s Asian roots, but at the end of the day, it’s still a little uncomfortable to see so many swastikas appearing throughout Miller’s works. Like I mentioned last time, I think one of the downsides of this series is that it’s simply a product of it’s time.
Those minor complaints aside, I do highly recommend picking up these first three books, they’re each a work of art in their own right!
Comic vs Movie (Vol 3)
This is another one of the three main storylines featured in the first “Sin City” movie, which made the second movie (A Dame to Kill For), both a prequel and a sequel in a weird way. Again, this is an extremely faithful adaptation with only some minor tweaks here and there, mostly cutting a few lines of dialogue for time. As great as Josh Brolin was, Clive Owen absolutely crushes it as Dwight McCarthy! In fact, I would argue that this is Clive Owen’s best role! The way he delivers that incredible narration, feels like it was ripped right out of the golden era of Film Noir classics, the dude’s channeling Bogart in his prime!
The rest of the cast is great too: Brittany Murphy (RIP) as Shellie, the late great Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute, Rosario Dawson as Gail, and of course Benicio del Toro as the villainous Detective “Iron Jack” Rafferty! It’s worth pointing out that one of the standout scenes in the movie, where Dwight’s paranoia gets ahold of him and he starts talking to Jack’s corpse, was actually filmed by special guest director, Quentin Tarantino!
Again, both of Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City movies really nailed it when it came to recreating the style and feel of the Frank Miller comics. The way they weave in the characters’ narration, and go out of their way to recreate the panels on the screen is absolutely genius. One of my favorite sequences from this segment was the way they showed Dwight sinking into the tar pits, as a white silhouette in a sea of black ink.
Next Time: Vol 4 – “That Yellow Bastard”
If you’re a fan of neo-noir, check out my latest book “2299”!
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