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Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is a grim, compelling masterwork

  • May 4, 2012

Summary:  Frank Miller tells a riveting story through hard-boiled dialogue and hard-hitting illustrations in glorious black & white. It is not bloody but too implicitly violent for some readers. The Hard Goodbye tells one of three stories in the movie Sin City (2005). The book was published originally as just Sin City.


Marv is a tough guy. He's a good one too, or at least about as good as people get to be in Basin City, Frank Miller's dark metropolis that is the setting for his acclaimed Sin City comic books and graphic novels. Living within the law in Sin City means not living for long.

Marv has done for people the kinds of favors that allow him to say without speaking figuratively that he knows where the bodies are buried. Without trying to, he scares his psychiatrist. Nonetheless, his parole officer happily goes out of her way and far beyond her job description to help him out. It's not because he has a pretty face. He does not and she wouldn't care if he did.

In the serialized story collected in Sin City: The Hard Goodbye trade paperback, Marv needs whatever help he can get. Someone, an expert, has murdered a woman as she slept next to him. Marv is going to make the killer pay. He must take on challenges that could inspire nihilism. The killer is protected by powerful politicians and clerics who condone what he does, which is more repugnant than mere murder.

The story that author/illustrator Miller tells masterfully in The Hard Goodbye is gripping and grim. The climax is electrifying. Although it reflects the influences of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Edgar Allen Poe and others, Miller's work is peerless.

When he introduced the series in 1991, Miller put into place almost all of the elements that have made the Sin City stories some of the most acclaimed in comic book history. Although there is none of the rare humor with which Miller slightly lightens up some of his later relentlessly dark tales about a town without pity, the prose in the pioneering Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is as powerful and the illustrations as unnervingly evocative as his readers have come to expect. Miller almost never disappoints.

He does not disappoint in this first story. His main character, Marv, is a hero (that's a very relative word in Sin City) like many of the others Miller presents in subsequent books. He has a shady past that has left him able to use his fists and guns. He tries to win some small bit of fairness that perverse authorities deny with routine ruthlessness. Marv has every reason to quit and no reason to believe he can succeed, but he is energized by determination beyond reason.

That determination helps Marv answer when a priest suggests he ask himself "if that corpse of a slut is worth dying for." Marv replies, "Worth dying for. Worth killing for. Worth going to hell for. Amen."

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is something like that: Worth buying. Worth reading. Worth going to the movies for. Amen.

Some critics have argued that Miller's Sin City stories are the work of a misogynist. Although it is true that the female characters are subordinated and relentlessly objectified by men, the male characters come off worse. They have made Sin City a reflection of themselves. It is dangerous, corrupt and brutal. One could more persuasively accuse Miller of misandry.

Except that to label Miller a misogynist, misandrist or even a misanthrope is misguided. He clearly admires the people of Sin City -- the women and men -- who risk their comfort and safety to try to achieve some small justice in a metropolis that is unyieldingly unjust.

Miller's Sin City fictions are cautionary tales. He is warning that if the best of us lack conviction and we allow mere anarchy to take hold, any city could become a Sin City. That he doesn't want anyone to live in such a place is proof that Miller likes us all well enough.



Sin City: The Hard Goodbye contains the story that is presented also in the book by Frank Miller titled simply Sin City. The books are the same, except for the titles and cover art. The story in The Hard Goodbye was published first in the early 1990s in serialized chapters in several issues of the comic book anthology Dark Horse Presents.

The publisher, Dark Horse Comics, added the Hard Goodbye subtitle to the book in 2005, apparently to avoid confusion. This way Sin City: The Hard Goodbye won't be mistaken for any of the other books, which include:

Sin City: Family Values, a comic book like the best, darkest film noir.

Sin City: The Big, Fat Kill, brutality in brilliant black and white.

Sin City: That Yellow Bastard. Miller's worst Sin City book is still not terrible. Elements of The Big, Fat Kill and That Yellow Bastard are included in the 2005 movie.

Sin City: Hell and Back;

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For;

and Sin City: Booze, Broads and Bullets, a compilation of short stories that were published first in several different comic books, including Sin City: Silent Night, Tales to Offend and an issue of A Decade of Dark Horse.
Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is a grim, compelling masterwork Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is a grim, compelling masterwork

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May 06, 2012
loved the first books and this is indeed a good collection. Great job providing some history to the material!
May 04, 2012
Lots of detail!
More The Hard Goodbye (Sin City, Bo... reviews
review by . April 19, 2005
With that opening line, I was drawn into the damn finest comic book I've read yet. I saw the trailer for "Sin City" and thought it looked very cool. I've never been into comic books, really, but I decided to go and check out the first "Sin City" comic to see what I could expect in the film. Before I read it, I was expecting typical noir: men in raincoats and fedoras skulking around streets in the night.    Ha! Boy, was I wrong.    "Sin City" (or as it was …
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Sin Citylaunched the long-running, critically acclaimed series of comics novels by Frank Miller. Having worked on some of the most important comic books in the 1980s, including Marvel Comics'sDaredeviland the influential Batman graphic novelThe Dark Knight Returns, Miller was already a heavy-weight cartoonist, but he hit his stride withSin City. It gave him the freedom that doesn't come when working on someone else's characters. While the art isn't as polished as in later books, it is in many ways the quintessential Sin City story: tough-guy Marv finds the girl of his dreams, an incredible beauty named Goldie. But when Goldie is murdered on their first night together, Marv scours the bars and back alleys of Sin City to find her killer in hopes of avenging her death.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 1593072937
ISBN-13: 978-1593072933
Author: Frank Miller
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Dark Horse
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