4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
For Honor's sake, read this!,
This review is from: 300 (Hardcover)
Though I'm a Frank Miller fan, back in 2006 I somehow hadn't heard of his book "300" so I went to see Zack Snyder's film first - and it completely blew me away. Maybe because I hadn't read Miller's book or seen anything about the film beforehand, but the film was shot in such a highly stylised way and the story was so utterly engrossing, that I couldn't get it out of my head and is probably one of my favourite films ever. Needless to say once I found out it was based on Miller's book I sought it out and devoured it in one sitting. Years later I sat down with it again one rainy Saturday morning and after re-reading it I decided to set down my thoughts to encourage anyone out there reading this review who hasn't read this book to go out and read it now.
The story is set in 480 BCE and is about King Leonidas of Sparta and 300 of his personal guard standing up to a massive Persian army many thousands strong led by the self-proclaimed god-king Xerxes. What looks like a massacre based on figures alone, changes when Leonidas chooses a narrow coastal passageway called the Hot Gates as the place he and his men will make their last stand. They will die but not without taking a fair chunk out of Xerxes' force, causing his army to stumble in their mission to dominate the civilised world, and inspire others to oppose and eventually defeat Xerxes.
The story is ripe for drama and Miller milks it for all its worth, setting up each of the five chapters perfectly so that not a single panel is wasted. The dialogue is so memorable a lot of it was lifted straight from the book into the film: "This is blasphemy! This is madness!" - "This is SPARTA!", "Spartan! Come back with your shield - or on it", "Spartans. Ready your breakfast and eat hearty - for tonight we dine in Hell!" and so on. There are so many excellent passages like when the Spartans meet up with the Arcadians or Leonidas' confrontation with Xerxes that the words will ring through your mind long after you've read it (in my case years later).
Then there's the art. If, like me, you were blown away by the visuals in the film, it's only because so many of the iconic scenes were taken straight from the book and Miller's imagination. Every page is a master-class in comics artistry from the night battle with the Immortals, to the dance of the Oracle, to the bottomless pit in Sparta, to Xerxes' character design, and the Spartans' iconic red cloaks, bronze shields and helmets. The book is printed on A4 pages with many panels taking up an entire page. Miller doesn't waste a single inch of space, filling it up with detail and action while his partner Lynn Varley elevates it with her colours to produce some of the most gorgeous art Miller has ever crafted in his career.
"300" is an incredible accomplishment of art and storytelling and is one of the many reasons why Frank Miller is so revered in the literary world. It's as exhilarating to read on the page as it is to see on the screen and the art is to die for. I recommend this whole-heartedly to anyone who enjoys to read but especially to comics fans who've not picked this up yet. This is an amazing book, this is a work of art, THIS IS MILLER (at his finest)!