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The Complete Series

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (Volume 1)
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Volume 2)
Sin City: The Big Fat Kill (Volume 3)
Sin City: That Yellow Bastard (Volume 4)
Sin City: Family Values (Volume 5)
Sin City: Booze, Broads, and Bullets (Volume 6)
Sin City: Hell and Back (Volume 7)

all reviews by petra

Introduction
Sin City is a series in which the men are real men, and the women are real women. Except truthfully, not so much. Sin City is the creation of Frank Miller and he's writing noir at it's very best. His heroes are men trying to do the honorable thing in dishonorable world, his heroines are prostitutes who own their own destinies, and his villains are sexual predators and duplicitous women.

Each book is a distinct story, but they exist in the same world and you run across familiar cast of characters in each volume. Like most noir novels you are given a view into the underbelly of the city. It's not a series for the easily offended or for the faint of heart. It's a series that embraces the noir tradition and all of the sexual politics and violence that that entails. The violence is brutal and the gore is astronomical, although by and large it's in black-and-white so it's not quite as gruesome as it might be.

I've heard a lot of people complain about the portrayal of women in the Sin City comics. They are either blond bombshells who invariably use and betray the men who love them, or they are hard as nails prostitutes dressed in fetish gear. This is, to be fair, not untrue. But . . . (a) it's a noir novel so I'm not entirely sure what people were expecting; and (b) Frank Miller's heroines as victims doesn't give them or him enough credit. The prostitutes run Old Town and protect their own, and the men who enter have to live by their rules not the other way around. The prostitutes of Old Town are more in control of their lives than any other character in the series and they are the farthest thing from being victims.

The artwork is gorgeous, stark black and white very occasionally cut with startlingly vivid color – like the blue eyes of the serial killer in The Hard Goodbye, or the yellow skin of Yellow Bastard. Frank Miller doesn't constrain himself to a strict frame-by-frame approach and images will sometimes occupy the center of the page, and sometimes crowd themselves off the page. The black and white images are striking and evocative, and the depth of expression and character that he achieves with very simple lines is extraordinary.

If you've see “Sin City” the movie you've seen the plots of The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard. The translation of Frank Miller's images to the screen is astonishing. I watched the movie and recognized entire sequences of images from the comic. The movie is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than to see still images come to life in 3D, but I think the books are better and moved me more.

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Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (Vol. 1)
ISBN 1593072937
By Frank Miller
Art by Frank Miller
Dark Horse 2005 (2nd edition)

Marv is an ox of a man – ugly, violent and big. He's the kind of man who can't even get a date with a hooker. Goldie is a dame with a body to die for. When she picks him up and takes him home he doesn't question his good luck until she wakes up dead in his bed the next morning. Her kindness to him and his love for her send him on a spree to avenge her death while evading the people trying to frame him for her murder. His mission is complicated by the appearance of her twin sister and the kidnapping of his parole officer by a serial killer with a taste for female flesh, literally.

This is, so far, my favorite of the Sin City books. Marv is endearing in his ultra-violent little way. Lucille, his parole officer, is interestingly complex which is impressive given how little time there is to build her character. Kevin, the serial killer, is seriously creepy. And Goldie, despite the fact that she's dead for 5/6th of the book, is convincing as a motive for all of the events.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Vol. 2)
ISBN 1593072945
By Frank Miller
Art by Frank Miller
Dark Horse 2005 (2nd edition)

Dwight makes a living taking photographs, and not always of the most savory people doing the most savory things. But, even if the photographs aren't clean at least the work is honest and Dwight's trying to make it by living straight. That's not so easy when Ava reenters his life. She was the one that got away and now she's back asking for his help, pleading for him to save her life. She's the one woman he could never say no to, and even though he knows it's a bad idea he says yes and (predictably) winds up finding himself framed for murder. She's devious, and he's not as bright as he should be, and in the end when his butt needs saving it's the women of Old Town who come to his rescue, guns blazing.

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Sin City: The Big Fat Kill
(Vol. 3)
ISBN: 1593072953
by Frank Miller
Dark Horse Comics

Sin City: That Yellow Bastard
(Vol. 4)
ISBN: 1593072961
by Frank Miller
Dark Horse Comics

Sin City: Family Values
(Vol. 5)
ISBN: 159307297X
by Frank Miller
Dark Horse Comics

 

Sin City: Booze, Broads, & Bullets
(Vol. 6)
ISBN: 1593072988
by Frank Miller
Dark Horse Comics

 

Sin City: Hell and Back
(Vol. 7)
ISBN 1593072996
By Frank Miller
Art by Frank Miller
Dark Horse 2001

Wallace is a black-ops war veteran turned artist. The night he stops the beautiful and built Ester from killing herself is a turning point in his life. She admires his art and they fall in love and it all seems like it should be bliss. But this is Sin City, and when she gets kidnapped Wallace has to call on all his old tricks to find her and save her. This volume is the last in the Sin City series, and subtitled “a love story”. Given that all the Sin City stories are love stories one way or another, I'm not sure if perhaps Frank Miller wasn't referring more to his own connection with Sin City. It's the longest volume of Sin City, and I'm not sure that does the story any favors. It isn't any more or less blood soaked than any of the other stories, but it does go on longer so it ends up feeling more violent. A lot of the scenes felt like filler, and probably could have been edited out to make a tighter story, but I feel like this was Frank Miller's goodbye to the series and he wanted to spend as much time there as he could. It's certainly worth having, and would round out the collection, but not one of my favorite volumes.

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copyright Robin Brenner 2002-2004