Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sin City: Vol. 5 - Family Values - A No Flying No Tights Review

SOURCE: Sin City, Vol. 5: Family Values
Dwight McCarthy is the sort of man who always pays back what he owes, be it money, favors or pain. But there are some debts that can never be paid off completely and that’s the sort of debt that Dwight owes his ex-girlfriend Gail and her fellow Old Town Girls. So when they need someone to check out a recent murder, Dwight doesn’t need to be told the details – just when and where to jump.

 With “Deadly Little Miho” (the Old Town Girls’ professional assassin) in tow, Dwight starts scouting the crime scene looking for clues and witnesses. What he finds could lead to an all out gang war between the syndicate of a powerful crime boss who likes playing politics and Sin City’s local Mafia. As always, Dwight will be in the middle of it but his stake in the coming conflict will remain a mystery to everyone (including the reader!) until the very end.

The only one of the Sin City “yarns” originally written and published as a graphic novel (the previous trade paperbacks collected mini-series originally published as comic books) Family Values is also unique in that – while presented as a fairly straight-forward murder mystery– the real mystery lies not in the murder being investigated but in precisely why Dwight is investigating the murder in the first place! At first glance there’s no reason why The Old Town Girls would be interested in the murder of one conservative politician. But as the story unfolds and layers upon layers of seemingly unrelated secrets are revealed, we slowly reach a conclusion that explains everything. I shan’t spoil anything, save to say that the title of this volume is a hint to the ultimate secret.

Those who have read previous Sin City volumes will know what to expect from Frank Miller’s artwork… with one exception. For some reason, Miho is drawn in a completely different style than the other characters in this story. Whereas every other character is rendered using the unique mixture of heavy blacks and light whites that have defined the Sin City look, Miho is drawn in pure white with think black lines defining her features, looking something like a scribble compared to the other, more defined and more heavily inked characters. Whether Miller meant to make Miho seem more ethereal – a ghost who cannot be touched yet delivers death with her touch – or whether this was meant to make her look faster and leaner in comparison to the bigger, blocker figures I cannot say. The difference is effective, whatever the reason.

As always, I will note that this volume – and the Sin City series in general – is not intended for younger audiences and should be firmly placed in the adult fiction collection of any library. This particular volume features a goodly bit of ultra-violence, including one man having his head kicked off. There’s also quite a lot of racist and misogynistic language and some brief, gratuitous nudity at one point when we see that Miho doesn’t wear a sports bra under her kimono.

Sin City, vol. 5: Family Values
by Frank Miller
ISBN: 59307297X
Dark Horse, 2005
Publisher Age Rating: 16

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