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Longbox Graveyard Podcast: Holy Terror

Just when you’d forgotten about Frank Miller’s 2011 misstep …

Holy Terror

For the fourth Longbox Graveyard Podcast, I settled in with my son, Miles, to discuss Frank Miller’s Holy Terror. Trying to get Miles to read comic books has been one of the subplots of Longbox Graveyard, and for the most part, my efforts here have been a failure. He will sometimes consent to read a Walking Dead, or Kick-Ass, but that’s about it … save for Frank Miller’s Sin City. I haven’t been able to walk Miles onto Miller’s Daredevil or Dark Knight Returns, but I did get him Holy Terror, as a means of continuing my relentless comic book advocacy.

Our discussion proved not to be a review of Holy Terror so much as it was an exploration of what it’s been like for Miles to grow up in the shadow of 9/11, and how Miller’s work did (or did not) address Miles’ anxieties about what can sometimes be a very scary world.

This is a long podcast, but it is among my favorites … Miles is a cool kid, and it was great to share this time with him.

Click here to listen!

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on March 20, 2014, in Podcasts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thank you for this really interesting podcast.
    Miller has reallyl proven to be … just a designer, lets keep it at that. All style, no – or rather questionable – substance. Not only was it at ten years after 9/11 still too early for Miller to say anything remotely clever on the subject, he also failed to incorporate many other ramifications felt throughout the MiddleEast and the whole world.
    Germany, for example, at least the people in the street, feel disdain for the NSA’s spying operations which even include our government, i.e. our chancellor. I don’t like her, but if this is not terror what then? This probably started when germany opted out of siding with the Bush administration. Paranaoia anyone? Also, Guatanamo is a sign of utter failure of law and order, the terrorised have thus become the new terrorists. Plenty of stuff for good Art I’d say. Miller just doesn’t get it. Remember my comment on Mar-Vell on Facebook some time ago. “A hero for our time”, meaning here you have, or had, a soldier, who broke away from the expected course, choosing free will (cosmic enlightenment, was it called?). Thus becoming a true hero for our time,
    This would maybe be too fantastic for Miller, so this story still needs to be told and it should offer an insight into all sides involved, voluntary or not. Alas, I don’t know what the psychological climate is in the US, but that would make more sense than “Holy Terror”.
    (Was Miller using a pun there? “Holy terror Batman, they blasted the WTC, we gotta invade Iraq!” “That’s right chum, and we’d better install a regime of world wide fear and collect lots of data, cause you know what they say, keep your enemies close, but keep your friends closer.” Or was it the other way around…?)

    However, your review with Miles was truly worthwhile listening to, while doing the kitchen chores;-). No, honestly, I hope to have such a conversation with my boy once he’s older. Congrats on that, well done!

    Keep on doing what you do. You’ve found yourself a new listener.
    Your faithful reader,
    Mirko

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    • Thank you for the very kind words!

      My parenthetical opinion is that Miller has just flat-out lost his mind, and it is reflected in his work. We didn’t really grapple with that in the podcast, though, because it was much more interesting (to me, and apparently to you!) to look at the very subjective experience of a young man trying to make sense of this crazy world through the context of Miller’s loopy work.

      And you are right — our Surveillance State is a rich subject for contemporary art. I have a scratch theory that you can learn a lot about a society by the toys they give their children. A trip through our U.S. toy stores turns up night-vision goggles and drones you can fly with your smart phone — the trickle-down, consumer-side bounty of our continuing high tech shadow war! We could use a cosmically-enlightened warrior for peace right about now — in life or in comics — but Mr. Miller won’t be the man to give it to us.

      (And I do think that “Holy Terror” was supposed to be a referential play on words, as you suggest, but any such shades of grey were throughly washed away by the balance of Miller’s heavy-handed polemic. I do think he was joking, a little … but less than he might have you believe).

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  2. Sadly, Miller fell hard after a long slip starting way back from his Daredevil’s debut. Sin City helped connect the dots for me. I was easy sold on the art but the writing made me feel uneasy.

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  3. I read them as a teenager. They were cool, of course. Stark black and white drawing, nudism, violence. What’s not to like about it as a teeenager?
    Then later i realised that’s not Miller telling a story, that’s very likely him. And that is sad, indeed.

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    • Not the first artist driven by his demons … but sad, yes, if that reflects his internal landscape.

      In his Untold Story of Marvel Comics book, Sean Howe notes how a young Frank Miller was robbed at knife-point in New York City just before taking over creative duties on Daredevil. Supposedly his original intent was to do “traditional” Daredevil stories — the kind of light, swashbuckling, psuedo-Spider-Man stories that the book had featured since the Stan Lee days. After that mugging, Miller’s creative outlook changed, and Daredevil became the dark, gritty (and brilliant) book we all know today.

      If true, that appears to have been his turning point, and also shows a tendency to exorcise trauma through art (which brings us back to Holy Terror).

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  4. Traumatic experience? More like he got eaten whole by his complaisance for a rotten ideology. Remember his gross diarrhea against the Occupy Wall Street protesters? Regarding his work, years ago, David brin wrote a great post disassembling Miller’s fascist propaganda in 300 (http://davidbrin.blogspot.fr/2011/11/move-over-frank-miller-or-why-occupy.html?commentPage=2).

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    • I didn’t care for 300 the movie (never read the graphic novel) — not because it is a fantasy entirely adrift from history (which I have studied), but because I thought the experience of seeing the movie was closely akin to being hit in the face with a shovel for two hours. Just not my thing at all.

      As far as the political subtext of 300, and that Occupy Wall Street rant … well, yeah. I’ve tip-toed around those things out of respect for works that I admire, from a creator who may be half-mad (entirely mad?) or coked up or broken or whatever. But the words speak for themselves, I disagree with them and I won’t defend them.

      We’ll always have Dark Knight, sweetheart!

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      • Unfortunately, the Knight is long gone and only the Darkness remains. I wished I could have held on the memories of his work but even these feel somehow tainted, corrupted. Time to grab my old and faithful Starlin’s run on Captain Marvel for sheer undiluted nostalgia wonder!

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  5. Good idea! Peace and some good old civil (or rather military) disobedience.

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