Saturday, January 28, 2006

3. A Dame to Kill For

by Frank Miller

I recently had the overwhelming desire to pick up the entirety of the Sin City series and read them all in one go. It was possibly inspired by this bit on Elijah Wood in one of my Spin magazines and my thinking how he was really good in the movie and wondering if one of the seven books follows Kevin’s story and then observing that, man, Elijah Wood grew up, and then feeling embarrassed about that thought. (It’s Elijah Wood. That's weird.) I didn’t rush out and buy the six remaining of the series, but I did pick up books #2 and #3, though I haven’t yet read the third one.

A Dame to Kill For is not one of the stories in the movie. It focuses on Dwight’s fixation on a woman named Ava, a past love who is now married to the powerful Damien Lord. Like Marv, Dwight’s got a bit of an anger management problem, attempting to control his inner rage by repressing it: “I put the game on and pray it will chase away the memories. The damn Old Town memories of drunken mornings and sweaty sex and stupid, bloody brawls. You can’t just pick and choose. You can’t take the good without the bad. Not once you let the monster out.”

The monster comes out when Ava resurfaces from Dwight’s past, screaming tales of her husband’s jealousy, mistrust, and abuse. She seduces him one last time, leading him to seek out her torturous husband and murder him in a fit of desirous rage. Unbeknownst to Dwight, this is exactly what Ava wants – a way out of her marriage and access to her husband’s fortune. She is, in her own words, pure evil: “There’s a word for what I am, but nobody uses it anymore. Nobody wants to see the simple truth. If they did, they’d kill people like me as soon as we revealed ourselves. But they don’t. They close their eyes and blather about psychology and say nobody is truly evil. That’s why I’ve won. That’s why I always win.” Then she shoots Dwight in the head.

I love that Ava is pure and shamelessly evil. I love that she manipulates anyone and everyone without remorse. I’m not sure why I love it, but I think that many of the times we get a villainess, there’s some kind of underlying reason for her rage. Her father abused her when she was young or her sister ran off the love of her life or she watched her husband die. Ava’s powerful and influential and she knows it; everything she does is for her own gain and she’s not apologetic about it. Don’t misunderstand me as trying to put some kind of feminist slant on the character. I’m just saying that we don’t often get women who are evil because that’s who they are. Usually female characters are only allowed to go bad once something awful has happened in their lives and that’s not the case with Ava. I like that.

I’m a little confused on the exact timeline of these books because Dwight enlists Marv’s help to, first, kill Damien Lord, then to take him to Old Town for recovery and, in the end, put an end to Ava’s insanity. But in The Hard Goodbye, the first in the series, Marv dies. This is also our first introduction to Gail and “deadly little” Miho, two of the Old Town prostitutes who come to Dwight’s aid, and we have an appearance from the twins Wendy and Goldie, the latter of which is Marv’s obsession in the first book. Clearly this story happens before that, but this leaves me wondering if I’ll be able to figure out the chronology of all seven when I’ve got them read. Reading all seven is, of course, on my list of ever-growing reading goals.


Anonymous Heliologue said...

I must say, despite all the hype around Sin City, that I remain entirely unimpressed with Frank Miller. Perhaps I just don't have the right temperament for comic book—er, graphic novels.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Exxie said...

Well, nothing's for everyone. I'm a pretty big fan of the Sin City series, but I'm certainly not going to berate you for not liking them. You're entitled to your own taste. It's not like you're saying you hate Ray Bradbury, right? RIGHT?

(I kid. You can hate him. I just can't be your friend if that's the case :). )

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Heliologue said...

No worries. I don't like Bradbury in the sense that I like Egolf, but I do consider myself a fan.

2:59 PM  

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