I haven’t seen the Sin City movie yet, but here’s my opinion of this TPB: the cinematography is great, but the plot seems weak.
There are some absolutely gorgeous scenes in this graphic novel. It done completely in stark blank-and-white – there is no color anywhere in this book, nor even any shades of gray. The art is binary; it is either black or white, which provides stark contrasts and bold arrangements of panels. This style helps amplify the stark lives its characters live within its pages. Their lives are ones of clear contrasting moral choices, and the art illuminates the themes of the comic in a striking and bold way.
Which is why it’s a damn shame that the plot is so, well, I hate to say it, but it’s comic-booky. Because there’s nothing but a binary contrast, there’s no possible subtlety in the story. As with the art, the story can use a number of clever and striking tricks to keep the reader engaged in its progress. But because of its lack of depth, the story here just doesn’t have the feel that it deserves.
One of Miller’s great tricks on Daredevil and on Batman was to add an extra level of subtlety to the characters that added versillimitude to the events that happened to the characters. When we read Born Again and see Matt Murdock/Daredevil move from being crushed by the Kingpin’s machinations to finding true inner peace, we see a nice character arc, real movement of Matt as a person. Similarly, the arc of Bruce Wayne in Dark Knight really moves the character from one place to another. “The Big Fat Kill” doesn’t provide such an arc.
One of the points of Sin City may be that some people never change or are able to change only due to the stark world they live in. Maybe these characters, like many of us, are only able to move forward without reflection, without true growth. Their stark world never allows such change. There’s merit to that concept, but it feels to me like it lacks the depth of feeling necessary to really make the story feel satisfying.
Or maybe the point is that there is no point, that there are some people for whom the world is black and white, and for whom violence is a way of life. Fair enough.
In the end, for me, this is a comic that I admire for the amazing artwork, but for which I can’t muster any enthusiasm for its story.
[Jason Sacks has a comic review blog.]