Sin City: The Big Fat Kill
Collects: Sin City: The Big Fat Kill #1-5
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Frank Miller
By Michael David Sims
If The Hard Goodbye is the cool, take no shit kid on the playground, then The Big Fat Kill is the teenager that revels in the scrapes and bruisers and scars collected during fights. It starts off in the middle of an argument and ends in the middle of a firefight, and the build towards the climax is an unrelenting journey that smirks at you the entire way because it knows it has you by the balls and isn't letting go until it feels like it.
What truly separates this one from the original Sin City story is that The Big Fat Kill isn't a whodunit. It's still a pulpy crime drama, but there is no mystery to figure out or killer to catch. Instead, it's all about a great plan — a scheme, if you will. It's about hiding the bodies and protecting the peace at all costs. It's about doing what's right by your friends, even if it means dying for them.
Where as Goodbye starts out nice and slow, unraveling the pieces along the way, The Big Fat Kill drops readers into a lovers' quarrel and introduces the major players within the first few pages. In the background, quietly listening to his girlfriend argue with her drunken ex, is Dwight McCarthy. If he had his way, Shellie would let Jackie-Boy in so he could settle it for her, but she's been at the business end of Jackie's fist and knows the kind of trouble he can bring upon the couple. Dwight sulks away, seemingly leaving through a window, and Shellie lets the drunk and his buddies in. The real trouble starts when Jackie-Boy goes to take a piss and Dwight emerges from the shower with a straight razor in hand. "Hi," he says, "I'm Shellie's new boyfriend. And I'm out of my mind." Dwight then dunks the other man's face into the unflushed toilet and sneaks away before the drunk can collect himself.
Pissed and horny, Jackie and his crew scuttle off in search of pussy. Unfortunately Dwight doesn't listen to Shellie and gives chase, if only to make sure no one gets hurt. Something she said — "Stop!" — is muffled by a passing chopper and the word sits like a lump at the back of his brain. It doesn't feel right, the word that is.
By the time he catches up with the guys it's too late. They've entered Old Town — the one truly lawless portion of Sin City — and there's no stopping the girls from brandishing their own form of protection should the boys get out of line. And they do, in the worst of ways.
Five silent deaths later — all at the hands of the deadly little Miho — and Dwight discovers what Shellie was trying to tell him. It was the one word that, had he heard it, would have made him stop. But, with their limps severed and the bodies lining the street, it's too late to do anything about it, so it's up to Dwight to hide the corpses so that no one ever finds them. Because if these bodies are found, especially Jackie's, the mob and police and pimps and pushers will swarm Old Town faster than lightning can strike you dead.
As good as the setup is, it's here that the story takes a slight turn. With everyone jockeying for Jackie-Boy's head, assassins of all kind crawl out of the woodwork much too quickly. Before this, however, Miller delves deep into Dwight's mind as he talks to Jackie's rotting corpse. The first time through it's funny and adds something to the book. The second time, however, it feels like useless filler. It would have been so easy for the creator to shorten these moments so as to setup the coming of the mercenaries. I realize he wanted a shocking cliffhanger at the end of the third issue, but there was no reason it couldn't have played out the same way even if we knew they were stalking Dwight.
Regardless, from there it's a mad scramble to regain Jackie's head before it's turned over to the police, a traitor is revealed, and lots of people die. (Oh, and sexy little Miho gets naked.)
What's interesting about The Big Fat Kill (if you're a fanboy that is) is how Miller clearly separates Dwight from his buddy Marv. Whereas Marv loves the rain because it clears his head, Dwight hates it because it clouds his. It's one of those moments when you realize how good Miller really is. When Marv said it it was nothing more than a throwaway line. Something to add a little to the character, but ultimately forgotten. However, when Dwight says it, it brings back memories of Marv's adventure in The Hard Goodbye and ties the universe together without actually having the characters meet (in this book, anyway). Additionally, Miller would lay the groundwork for 300, his historically based (and criminally overlooked) graphic novel.
When it comes to the art, this is close to Miller's best serialized Sin City work. (Silent Night, the text-less one-shot, being the best without a shadow of a doubt.) It's crisp and without too many flaws. In fact, the only fault one can find is that it feels rushed in places (but not many). The transitions are smooth and you never have to question what's going on.
As it is with The Hard Goodbye, you really need to read this book. Not doing so is a crime and should prohibit you from calling yourself a comic book fanboy.