This book did not lull me to sleep. Despite knowing everything that happens, courtesy of the movie, the book firmly attached itself to my fingers and refused to let go until I turned the last page. Even then, I started over and re-read several pages before I looked at the clock, realized that 1 a.m. was sidling up on me and my alarm clock was going to ring in five hours.
Those of you who watched the movie know the story already: Marv, a big, ugly psychotic (and psychopathic) killer spends a drunken night of pleasure in the arms of a gorgeous woman named Goldie. When he wakes up, Goldie is dead, and police sirens are ringing.
Someone wanted Goldie dead. Someone wants to frame Marv for her murder.
The rest of the book traces Marv’s obsession with finding Goldie’s killer and avenging her death, no matter what the cost. The results are a visceral—and I mean that in a literal sense—blood-soaked rampage through Sin City.
Marv is quite possibly one of the most perversely appealing fictional characters I’ve run across, barring Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Unlike the latter, however, there’s a side to Marv that’s tender, even sweet. Frankly, he reminded me quite a bit of Don Quixote. OK, the good Don wasn’t an overgrown lug who wasn’t satisfied until his victims screamed. But Marv’s worship of a woman he barely knows, his refusal to hurt dames, his relentless quest for her killers, the confusion over what’s real and what’s not and his willingness to take on a task despite the overwhelming odds because dammit, it’s the right thing to do made me think of Don Quixote more than once. This is a psycho with an unwavering moral code, and goddamn, I liked him for it.
And the artwork—what can I say about the artwork? The black-and-white panels are stark, crude and beautiful. The play of shadow and light and the creative way Miller framed many of the panels means it sometimes takes more than a quick glance to figure out exactly what’s going on, but I like that aspect of this book. Some of the drawings, like the panels of Marv walking in the rain, or leaping through the windshield of a cop car, gave me goosebumps. Giving me goosebumps right now remembering them, actually.
I can’t recommend this graphic novel highly enough. If you liked the movie, you’ll love this book. If you like ultra-violent noir, you’ll love this book. If you like comics in general—well, shit, you’re probably sneering at me for waiting this long before getting my mitts on a copy of this classic. Anyway, what can I say? Go. Read it. Laugh. Cringe. And glory in the seedy, insane world that is Marv.