Following the events of A Dame To Kill For, Dwight McCarthy has a new face, a new attitude and a new girlfriend named Shellie. Time once was that Dwight would have left well enough alone and been content with scaring off Shellie’s abusive ex “Jackie-Boy” after he came a-calling and was sent packing. But Dwight can’t defeat his heroic instincts so easily and pursues Jackie-Boy and his friends to make sure no other innocents get hurt.
Dwight follows Jackie-Boy and his gang into Old Town – a Sin City neighborhood where the ladies of the evening are free to administer their own rough justice to anyone foolish enough to raise a hand against one of their own. They’re also free to kill any pimp, drug-pusher or mobster who dares to enter their turf. The cops are content to leave the women of Old Town to do as they please, so long as the bribes are paid regularly and any cop who crosses the line with an Old Town lady is allowed to live.
Such is the nature of The Truce – beat them or bloody them, steal their pants or send them home in a dress. Just don’t ever kill a cop. Unfortunately, Jackie-Boy is an undercover cop – a fact that isn’t discovered until the ladies start looting his corpse. And with The Truce endangered and The Mob ready to move in and enslave every lady in Old Town, Dwight will find himself playing Knight Errant once again for the sake of the women who once saved his life.
The ladies of Old Town have had a role to play in every volume of Sin City thus far, so it’s only fitting that they should get a story all their own. Too bad this story – despite being firmly focused upon them – is pretty much a direct sequel to A Dame To Kill For and is really about how awesome Dwight McCarthy is. Don’t get me wrong – Dwight McCarthy is my favorite character out of the whole Sin City saga. It’s just that with this volume, we realize just how shallow Frank Miller’s female protagonists are.
We’re told how tough and independent the Old Town ladies are and yet they’re almost entirely dependent on one man coming up with a plan to save them. Most of the women of Old Town aren’t identified by name and with one exception, all the women who do have names are related to Dwight in some way, either having saved his life (Dallas), been saved by him (Miho) or being his ex-girlfriend (Gail). And the less I think about how Gail is apparently turned on by Dwight slapping her in the face after the two start arguing, the better.
Perhaps it’s foolish for me to raise this point in a book that is a tribute to a genre where the heroes routinely slapped women in the middle of arguments, but it seems unusually out of character for Dwight given his previously stated opinions on men who hurt women. Still, this is a world of flawed heroes and Miller – as per usual – paints a disturbing picture, both literally and figuratively. Miller’s artwork is rendered entirely in black and white but do not mistake this for a manga. Miller’s style is all his own, presenting us with images that are vivid in their simplicity.
It should, perhaps, go without saying at this point that the Sin City series is not for children and should be firmly filed in the Older Teen or Adult section of your graphic novel collection. This particular volume features full nudity, generous amounts of violence and numerous disturbing scenes involving a severed head.
Sin City, vol. 3: The Big Fat Kill
by Frank Miller
Dark Horse, 2005
Publisher Age Rating: 16