Sin City (Vol. 5): Family Values by Frank Miller

SIN CITY VOL 5Family Values is the fifth volume in Frank Miller’s SIN CITY series, and its a serious stinker. Until now, the first four volumes have been consistently well-drawn, distinctive, hard-boiled, and fun in a mean-spirited way. I came in expecting more of that, and was shocked to see almost from the first panels an unmistakable drop in the quality of the artwork, dialogue, and story. Miller is still using his tried-and-true black-and-white palette, but all the details are sketched in whereas before they were precise and clean. He uses ink splashes to indicate rain, which looks cool at first glance but quickly becomes annoying. Worst of all, the faces of the characters are drawn so poorly that you can’t make out their features at all, let alone their emotions. In particular, deadly little Miho has inexplicably turned into a strange roller-skating ninja with a square face-covering hood, and zooms throughout the story on skates, dispatching thugs with such ease that I felt as bored as she seemed to be.

SinCity_V5_1The story is far below the standards of earlier tales. It’s a dreary affair involving Dwight and Miho, who have been pretty cool characters until now. Basically a mafia hitman has targeted the wrong people and killed some innocent bystanders, including a woman from Old Town, and it’s their turn to exact vengeance. That’s the whole story. Sure, there are some sordid details about the mafia guys’ past and how the hit at a diner went down. But after that we just follow Dwight and Miho as they track down the mobsters one by one, killing them by the numbers. In past stories tough guys like Marvin, Dwight, and Hartigan have faced impossible odds, and got beaten repeatedly before getting their chance at revenge. This time, Miho in particularly is so invincible that she toys with several goons for a good third of the book, until Dwight begs her to finish them off. Once again, she is drawn so poorly that it’s hard to tell what’s going on in the action scenes.

By the time Dwight and Miho reach the mobster’s mansion for the final confrontation, it’s a foregone conclusion that they will all die and Dwight and Miho are unlikely to break a sweat. It all seemed very pointless. I’m not sure why Frank Miller suddenly lost his edge for this volume, but it really doesn’t belong on the shelf with the other titles at all. I recommend giving this one a pass.