Having never read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is probably the most ridiculous, shallow, offensive piece of propaganda I think I’ve ever read. Pretty? Sure. Any good? Absolutely not. So why did I enjoyed the hell out of it?
Unless you’ve been living in a nerd-proof bunker, you’ve most likely heard that the original title of the book was Holy Terror, Batman!, and the concept was basically Batman vs Al Qaeda. When the book moved from DC to Miller’s own company, Legendary, not much changed. Sure, the characters have different names, but they’re still pretty much Batman and Catwoman without the ears. There’s even a panel where Miller clearly forgot to erase one of the ears off the Catwoman character’s shadow.
The story starts in Empire City (not Gotham City) with The Fixer (not Batman) going toe to toe with Natalie Stack (not Catwoman), which of course culminates in a rooftop pash session. While they’re making out, There’s some kind of terrorist attack involving nails and Fixer and fake Catwoman decide to go on a personal vendetta against the terrorists. Oh, and Commissioner Gordon, I mean Captain Donagal, gets angry. That’s about it.
The story is shallow. The characters are thinly veiled knock-offs. The book is often offensive, stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. The terrorists use ridiculous attacks like nail bombs and razorblade bombs. I’m not joking. They use bombs. Filled with razorblades. So why did I like it so much? Primarily it’s because of Frank Miller’s art, which I’ll get to soon. But it was also something else, something I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it’s because the book feels like a parody of America’s bloodlust when it comes to terrorists. It’s not, and reflects Miller’s real world thinking, which in itself is kind of scary. But if it were a parody, it would be awesome. It could also be because I didn’t have to think when I was reading it – kind off like watching an Arnie movie or reading Jeph Leob’s Hulk. I feel ashamed for liking it, because it really was trash, but I did. Sue me.
Frank Miller’s art in Holy Terror is mostly amazing, although some pages feel like he rushed through them so he could catch the last 20 minutes of the football or something. I love the wide page format, as it really brings out the best in Miller’s art. Lots of ink, heavy lines, splashes of colour and amazing composition. Miller really evokes a sense of weight and gravity in his work, using silhouettes and other minimalist techniques to achieve
Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is terrible. It really is a bad book. The art is great, but everything else is just plain lousy. The thing is, it’s the kind of lousy that makes Michael Bay so successful. It’s the kind of lousy that you pick up at an airport bookshop. It’s not well written. It’s not intelligent or original or even tasteful, but if you want to kill an hour with some mindless tripe, Holy Terror is a good looking way to do it. 2 stars.