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A collection of "Sin City " short stories from Frank Miller
on 11 August 2005
Sandwiched between the relatively short Dwight & Miho story "Family Values" and the massive "Hell and Back" (which is supposed to star Johnny Depp in the next "Sin City" movie if the Fates are kind), Book 6 "Booze, Broads, & Bullets" is a collection of "Sin City" short stories from Frank Miller. There are eleven stories, ranging in length from three to two dozen pages and for those fans who do not think that "Sin City" has been as good as when Marv was holding center stage in Book One, "The Hard Goodbye," then the fact that Marv is the main character in two of the stories and a bystander in a couple of others will be greeted with undiminished joy. But there is also the addition of new female character who insists people call her "Blue Eyes" (yes, her eyes are colored blue, but that is not as impressive as what Miller does with her blue dress).
The collection gets off to a great start with "Another Saturday Night," in which Marv must have forgotten to take his medication, because he wakes up in the middle of a mess and cannot remember what is going on. We then shift to a comic little piece in "Fat Man and Little Boy," the nicknames by which a couple of low-rent hit men named Douglas Klump and Burt Shlubb do their business. They have been hired to dump a body, but Mr. Shlubb has designs on the finely crafted boots of the deceased to replace his most embarrassing and blister-inducing of pedal garments, but Mr. Shlubb points out that given their current status in the extralegal community even a minor transgression such as that could be cause fo discipline most severe. "The Customer is Always Right" is the vignette that served as the introduction for the "Sin City" movie, and then Marv comes back for "Silent Night," in which he has some business to take care of on a snowy night. Artistically this last one is my favorite in the collection as Miller continues to explore drawing figures walking through the snow. He did that a little in "Family Values," but in "Silent Night" he has some nice shots of Marv walking through a blizzard.
"And Behind Door Number Three..." is a quickie that gives Miho a reason to show up, while "Blue Eyes" introduces the new recurring character of Delia, who is reunited at the bar where Marv is watching Nancy dance with Jim, the only man she ever really lived. But Jim is running from somebody trying to kill him, so hooking up with Delia at this particular point in time might not be a bright idea. "Rats" is the most atypical of these stories, although bringing the sensibilities of "Sin City" to what I see as being a Holocaust story is an interesting touch. "Daddy's Little Girl" is another "Sin City" tale where a character, in this case the title one, gets to have a little color. However the color in this case is pink. On the one hand, I am not any more crazier about black & white and pink here than I was on the cover of "Family Values." But on the other hand pink does add to the attendant irony of this grim little tale.
Blue Eyes is back in "Wrong Turn," and she gets a ride from a guy who only thinks this is his lucky night. After Marv walking in the snow Miller's full page shots of Delia in her blue dress are my favorite artwork. Whether we are talking leather or silk, I really like how Miller draws fabric draped over the female form. "Wrong Track" brings Delia right back for another "Sin City" quickie. Miller plays with adding one primary color to his black & white artwork again in "The Babe Wore Red," in which Fat Man and Little Boy are on the trail of the title character. Fortunately she is rescued by one of Sin City's grimy knights, who does not know what to make about a beautiful woman who is the worst liar he has ever seen and prays in Latin when they are being shot at.
On balance, "Booze, Broads, & Bullets" is a short story collection where the sum is greater than the value of the parts. Yes, it would be nice to have another "Sin City" graphic novel with Marv, but it would be hard to top "The Hard Goodbye," so getting a couple of solid short stories may well be the best way to go. Plus, throwing a new female character into the mix, and one who actually talks instead of just dancing in a bar or slicing and dicing bad guys with her samurai sword, is a step in the right direction. Consequently, I am more than willing to round up on this one as representing a nice change of pace from Miller. Certainly our comic noir palate is cleansed before having to tackle the almost 300-page "Hell and Back."