Sunday, November 21, 2010

Graphic Novel Review - The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons


The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century

Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons

Publication Date: June 23, 2010

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: FC, 600 pages, TPB, 7" x10"
Price: $29.99
Age range: 16+
ISBN-10: 1-59582-482-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-482-0

From Dark Horse:

A masterpiece nearly twenty years in the making, this archival volume contains the complete life story of Martha Washington, the twenty-first century freedom fighter created by comic-book megastars Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), now in a more affordable softcover edition.

Our story begins in the squalid corridors of a maximum-security housing project, where a young girl will rise from the war-torn streets of Chicago to battle injustice in a world insane with corruption. Her fight will take her far, from the frontlines of the second American Civil War, to the cold, unforgiving reaches of space. She will be called a hero, a traitor, and nearly everything in between, but all along the way, her courage, her integrity, and her unwavering commitment to that most valuable of rights-liberty-will inspire a movement that will never surrender.

* The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-first Century contains six hundred stunning pages of work from two of the top creators in comics!

* Collecting remastered versions of every Martha Washington story and featuring the same extensive behind-the-scenes section by Dave Gibbons and introduction by Frank Miller as the hardcover edition.

From the Alternative:

Okay, so I’m walking through the airport in New Orleans after The Voodoo Experience looking for something to read so I can eradicate a few hours before my plane takes off for Chicago. I see a rack of graphic novels and manga at the Hudson News as I pass so I decide to step in and browse. Now, I own my share of entertaining graphic novel’s including: Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Serenity, Maus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, 1492, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc. But The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century is different from the very start. The cover caught my eye and while I waffled over purchasing it, mainly because of the fairly steep price, it kept drawing my attention. I picked it up once, twice, flipped through the pages. I even walked away from the store. But something about the cover intrigued me. Simplistic but political in nature, an uncharacteristic hero, and the names Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons finally solidified my purchase. I needed to know what it was all about.

My review of this book (nee graphic novel) will now take a sideways step from the typical simply because it is in no way normal. Politics, conspiracy, science fiction, aliens, the apocalypse, deception, space wars, meteors, a militant A.I. software program bent on taking over the world, and an atypical hero The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century scans more like a written narrative than a graphic novel and that is the highest compliment I could ever pay it. Don’t get me wrong. A graphic novel is suppose to immerse you visually and make no mistake, this one does. But I also felt like I was physically transported to 2030 America in just a few short frames. Quite frankly, I found very little not to like about this book. Most graphic novels and comics drag you in with those cool, jaw dropping spreads of great art or, conversely, they have superb, intricately detailed stories (i.e. Maus). Rarely do they contain both. But that’s exactly what makes this one so different. It is the perfect combination of concisely written story and remarkable artwork that makes Martha Washington a near-masterpiece and stand out performance.

I read a lot of Science Fiction every year as you can probably tell from the litany of books of that particular genus that I’ve reviewed over the years. It is, in fact, my favorite genre. Sadly, I have to admit that I had never heard of Martha Washington before I picked up this omnibus edition at the airport. Shame on me. Hopefully this review will help those of you unfamiliar with Miss Washington and her exploits get acquainted. Believe me, it won’t take long and it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Highly recommended if you’re into Science Fiction, great art, tight story-lines, politics, alternative realities, the apocalypse, aliens, nuclear warfare, trips into space, the colonization of Mars, blood and gore, intrigue, suspense, murder, military Sci-Fi, more blood and brains, artificial intelligence, cults, precognition, evil antagonists, world destruction, back-stabbing, or mayhem and face it, who isn’t?

Great story. Great art. Great time to go out and purchase this.

4 ½ out of 5 stars

Additional Reading:

Boing Boing Review

Martha Washington Wiki page

Frank Miller Wiki page

Frank Miller Official site

Dave Gibbons Interview @ Comic Book Resources

Blog review by Horus Kemwer

Goodreads page

Dark Horse Comics page

The Art of Frank Miller

Dave Gibbons Wikipedia entry

Dave Gibbons


The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin

No comments: