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Goodbye, Clunky Rice: Diana buries Martha Washington, 7/11

Brian Hibbs

In an interview that took place prior to the release of MARTHA WASHINGTON DIES, Dark Horse Executive Editor Diana Schutz had this to say:

“I can tell you that before I first read the script, Frank had told me that I was going to cry when I read it.”

Yes, Ms. Schutz. I’d cry too if I had paid Frank Miller for this dreck.

To prepare for this story, I reread the Martha Washington trilogy (GIVE ME LIBERTY, MARTHA WASHINGTON GOES TO WAR and MARTHA WASHINGTON SAVES THE WORLD). Boy, that was a waste of time. Not only does MARTHA WASHINGTON DIES fail to make any sense on its own merits (Grandma Martha turns into fireworks because… she met an alien once?), it doesn’t even have anything to do with the previous stories, which ended on an optimistic note; suddenly barbarians have taken over the world and it’s humanity’s last stand (someone’s been playing too much WORLD OF WARCRAFT). The switch is so bewildering – and so poorly explained – that you’re left completely baffled whether you’re familiar with the earlier Martha books or not.

For what it’s worth, I do see what Miller’s trying to do here; Martha dies while stuck in the same cycle of violence that defined her entire life, and there’s certainly something poignant about the fact that she never got out, but she didn’t die alone either. However, as is usually the case with Miller in recent years, there’s a rather large gap between what you think he might have been aiming for and what actually sees print. Any genuine emotion this one-shot is meant to evoke gets smothered under clumsy, anvilicious political overtones.

I submit MARTHA WASHINGTON DIES as the final, definitive proof that something AWFUL has happened to Frank Miller; not only has he lost any semblance of talent, he’s now actively undermining his own legacy by appending such horrors as this epilogue and ALL-STAR BATMAN to his past successes. A word of advice, Frank – sometimes it’s better to get off the stage before you’re thrown off.

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