Review: _Hard Boiled_ by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow
Furthering my study of popular culture that's actually good, if not edifying, I read the graphic novel Hard Boiled by Frank Miller. I'm surprised that the wikipedia entry on it is so slight. The three episodes are put together into one book, separated by black pages.
If you liked Sin City, you'll like Hard Boiled even more. The pictures remind me of my brother Paul's unpublished work, Death Toll, which he wrote and illustrated in fourth grade. Death Toll was a difficult-to-follow, nonsensical nightmare vision of murder and mayhem, and Hard Boiled gives an adult sheen and narrative around this very juvenile inclination to imagine a complete, hellish dystopia.
If they make Hard Boiled into a film, I doubt it will be popular. I can't imagine a film that would be more of a bloodbath -- 300 and Sin City included. Those films at least followed ostensible people; Hard Boiled follows a robot-assassin in a Los Angeles overcome by futuristic pleasure-drugs and near-total social degeneration, all seemingly engineered by a diabolical, Jabba the Hut-esque CEO of a sprawling corporate monopoly.
The plot, like my brother Paul's master work Death Toll, is ludicrous. The story's effect is to take one aback. How low can the hearts of men go? Hard Boiled suggests what American dystopia would look like: decayed, hateful, murderous, corrupt, and cyborgian. In other words, Fritz Lang's Metropolis with sex, drugs, and ultra-violence (some of the visual frames recall the 1927 film).
But consider: Hard Boiled is playing out in the Congo, Sudan, and has played out in other historical epochs. Frank Miller's work creates a fantasy vision of a world gone wrong, that, in its vision of a terrible Babylon, gives us a taste of what the purveyors of genocide have already done.