"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, April 07, 2007

300


300
Author: Frank Miller
Colorist: Lynn Varley
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN-10: 1569714029
ISBN-13: 978-1569714027

The Battle of Thermopylae is one of history’s most important battles. In 481-480 B.C, the Spartan King Leonidas and his army of 300 met the huge army (more than 100,000 strong) of the Persian Emperor Xerxes and were annihilated. Still, it gave the Greeks time to gather enough force to defeat the Persians. For three days those 300 men stood against that incredible army. How they managed it just defies imagination.

Frank Miller knows how to tell a hell of a story. While his account isn’t historically accurate, it’s a darned good tale and adds to the incredible story it already is. The art is astounding; the battle scenes are just the most intense, bloody and violent as only Frank Miller can make them. No one does blood and guts like Frank Miller.

In 300, Miller focuses on King Leonidas, the young foot soldier Stelios, and the storyteller Dilios. His portrayal of the Spartans makes them human, makes them so much more than just unbelievable historical shadow figures, at least for me. His characters embody the strength they must have had to stand up against that massive army of Persians. Their faces are almost carved of stone they are so chiseled, so rugged, so raw. The hands and fingers are almost square blocks and they are huge.

I love how Frank Miller’s sparse but deeply telling text accompanies his astounding art. His 300 will ignite a whole new group of people to research the history of the Battle of Thermopylae. How great is that? I see kids at the library asking about books on Sparta and I wonder – did you see 300? Did you read the graphic novel? What has you asking about it? I bet some of them are in there because of Frank Miller. Highly recommended but keep the younger kids away – this is graphically violent.

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