Frank Miller closes out his return to the 300 universe this week with an epic pitting Alexander the Great versus Xerxes. It has all lead to this, but is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Persian Empire is vast beyond imagining. It seems destined to last a thousand years . . . But a whirlwind comes from the west: the greatest warlord the world will ever know. Alexander!
Why does this matter?
Aside from Frank Miller writing and drawing within the 300 universe once again, this is also an interesting historical fiction. Miller has clearly done his research to make this somewhat close to non-fiction, making the work more interesting and vivid. It has also been a good war comic as the characters bang their shields and ask for more blood. This series has had some great chapters (Like issue #3) and some chapters that felt flat (like issue #4), but with Alexander finally in the story it can only mean a top notch comic is on the way.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This fifth and final chapter in the series serves as a fine conclusion to what has come before it. Now that all the issues are out it is much more clear Miller is exploring the rise and fall of Xerxes in a more general view. This isn’t a comic about character development or key moments, but instead broad strokes of how the most powerful king gained so much power and fell to another. This issue focuses more on Alexander and his battle with Xerxes’ armies reveal how he used Spartans and other armies to win the day even though he was outmatched. It concludes with a strong sentiment about men relating to one another who are more powerful than any before them.
The art utilizes the double page layout style quite well here. There are many pages of men running towards us or along the pages. The detailed jewels of Xerxes and his queen continue to be in that Miller style that’s unmistakable and there’s some great use of silhouette to help romanticize the war scenes. There’s also a fantastic double page layout of Alexander plotting how he’ll defeat Xerxes with he and his men going back and forth about their plan. It’s quite clear the art has only improved after four issues.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The broad strokes approach leaves much to be desired in how invested you’ll be with the characters and the narrative. The sentiment at the very end gives the work a stronger feel, but I was still left wanting more. As a whole this series has at various times left me anywhere from annoyed, excited, or downright impassive. It followed a narrative structure that was hard to pin down and seemed to meander in its focus. This final chapter is no different. It’s a comic series that was so different in its approach I could see some folks loving it, but if you’re a hardcore comic book reader you may leave this book scratching your head.
Is it good?
A good finish to a series that has had very high highs and very low lows. As a broad stroke sort of story it’s an excellent chapter in the 300 universe and one that romanticizes war in the best of ways.