I bought this when it came out 2 years ago, because I’m often impulsive and, apparently, a bit of a masochist. This book was originally supposed to be a special Batman original graphic novel, with Batman fighting members of Al-Qaeda, who launch a series of terrorist attacks in Gotham City, but after several years of development Frank Miller took the project away from DC, removed all references to Batman and those characters, and eventually published it on Legendary Comics. Frank Miller has made no secret about why he created this book, and his feeling towards Muslims, whom he thinks are ALL terrorists, because (according to him) Islam is a violent religion. Period. Nevertheless, I truly tried to be as…fair and balanced…as I could be when reading this. I mean, I paid full-price for this thing, so of course I wanted to like it.
Well, the book opens with double splash page, featuring an alleged quote from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad about killing infidels, so the tone is set pretty quickly. Then we’re in Empire City, where a masked vigilante called The Fixer is chasing a female cat burglar named Natalie Stacks across some rooftops at night. She’s in the middle of a theft, and he tries to stop her. Then a bomb goes off in the city, followed by another bomb, and it soon becomes apparent that these are orchestrated terrorists attacks by Muslims. So The Fixer and Natalie team up to fight this, with assistance from Empire City Police Captain Dan Donegal. The Fixer uses torture to get the info he wants, and also has no problems using lethal force. But this is no ordinary version of Al-Qaeda, in this comic not only do they have a bunch of willing suicide bombers, they’ve got access to stinger missiles and fighter jets. In America. And a massive city-wide secret HQ that is underneath the city, which Fixer manages to infiltrate for the final showdown. Throughout the book, Fixer’s inner monologue is a stream of anti-Muslim bigotry. Backed up by random scenes in the book of things like a Muslim man beating his wife for no reason.
Now, ignoring all that. Even if you agree with Miller’s feelings against Islam, I still wouldn’t recommend this book to you. Not because of the politics, but because of the crappy writing and crappy artwork. The first 20 pages are just Fixer and Natlie running and fighting on the rooftops, before making out. Or they may actually be having sex, I can’t tell for sure, because the art is confusing. There are plenty of other unnecessary splash pages, even blank pages which are supposed to represent the innocent victims who get killed in the terrorist attacks, but it just comes off as wasted space to me. And using analogs for other characters in fiction is fine, especially if you want to use them to tell stories that couldn’t work with the original characters. Two of my favorite current ongoing series are Grace Randolph’s Supurbia and Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, both of which feature analogs of various Marvel and DC characters, but Randolph and Busiek manage to make their characters somewhat unique, something Miller doesn’t even try to do here. Empire City is Gotham City, Fixer is Batman, Natalie is Catwoman, and Captain Donegal is Commissioner Gordon. It’s all obvious, which makes them seem like cheap knock-offs, and this whole story just bad Batman fan-fiction. Which, basically, it is. I just can’t find anything good to say about this book.