Frank Miller’s latest foray into the 300 universe has been an interesting one. It strikes a similar chord, especially the violence and probing captions, but it also has a visual style that doesn’t quite match up. In this third chapter Miller and colorist Alex Sinclair reveal the period after Xerxes becomes king.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
On a military campaign to silence a Greek rebellion, Xerxes, the Persian Prince, watches his father, King Darius, fall in battle. While his newly-inherited fleet retreats toward home, Xerxes’ hatred is cemented toward Athens! Xerxes will prevail. Greeks will fall and everything that lives will worship Xerxes.
Why does this matter?
If 300 resonated with you, you’ll want to read this. The story so far has focused on king Darius’ fall, but with his death from the Greek’s last issue Xerxes is ready to rise this week!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is the first issue that has looked and felt like the classic story. The texturing isn’t quite the same, but there are fewer Photoshop-looking pages in this chapter. Instead, we get visually striking double page layouts that depict a man’s rise from prince to king. There’s blood splatter, there’s epic posing, and there are a hell of a lot of gold pieces covering this newly crowned king. Miller makes this character look like a god and rightfully so, as there isn’t a soul as powerful as him.
I quite honestly don’t know how Xerxes armor works. He’s cast in all black like he’s wearing a cloak, but on it is dabbles of gold and jewels. The dotted texturing looks like a work of art on same pages while on others it can look messy and strange (an effect I’m sure he’s going for).
The story takes a surprising twist midway through when Xerxes must find a queen. Miller uses this to show Xerxes’ ability to be gracious and kind. Well, in his own way. This queen also allows Miller to probe the Persian Empire’s ability to absorb cultures. Fans of his drawings of women should get a kick out of a pose or two that looks all too familiar as well.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The story continues to move at a very slow pace. Alexander the Great, for instance, has his name in the title and has yet to show up. The first two issues served as prequels to what this comic series is really about and that was an element that confused me up until this issue. It’s clear now the series is on track, but it’s going so very slowly. Even the narrative here is slow with the focus much more on big story beats and visuals.
Is it good?
This issue has made me a believer in the series as Frank Miller’s visuals are stunning and the best yet in the series. The focus on Xerxes is fascinating as well as intriguing and should have you raring to go for future chapters.
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