Book Review: Sin City (Volume 3) – The Big Fat Kill by Frank Miller

TL;DR – Dwight McCarthy is back and this time he’s helping the women of Old Town retain control of their little patch of Sin City. Everything seems to be going to plan until the mob shows up.

Summary (warning: spoilers)

Go to my book reviews page to read reviews of previous volumes of this Eisner award winning series.

When Jackie-boy and his goons appear on Shellie’s doorstep drunk and looking for a fun time, Shellie tells them to get lost. Jackie gets rough and nasty when he’s drunk, and Shellie has the bruises to prove it.

Unknown to Jackie and company is that Dwight is standing in Shellie’s apartment, all muscle and naked, right behind her. Seems like Jackie has interrupted their lovemaking and he is none too impressed. He whispers to Shellie to let them in, saying he’ll take care of them. He’ll make sure Jackie will never bother her again.

Shellie looks at him alarmed telling him to stay out of this, so Dwight makes himself scarce but watches from the shadows as she lets Jackie in. They argue, Jackie’s goons raid her fridge, and Jackie starts to lose his temper and hits her.

A bathroom break results in Dwight making his presence known and shoving Jackie’s head in a toilet bowl. Dwight warns Jackie to leave Shellie alone and never come back. Jackie and his goons high tail it out of there, but Dwight is convinced that they are still looking for trouble. He decides to follow them and jumps down from Shellie’s apartment window, hopping into his car. Shellie appears at the window and shouts at Dwight to stop.

At least, that’s what Dwight thinks she says but a helicopter flying overhead makes it so he isn’t sure. He really should have listened to Shellie and stayed out of it. But he follows Jackie, and they all end up in Old Town… a section of Sin City best avoided if you’re drunk and looking for trouble.

Review

Welcome to Old Town. If you have the cash, you can pretty much buy anything you want from the women who work the streets. That is unless you’ve got a temper. The women of Old Town have bled for these streets, and it is now their turf. If you’re looking for trouble, then all you need to do is act violent towards a woman in Old Town and trouble will fall upon you from on high quicker than you can blink. Pull out a weapon and you’ll get a one-way ticket straight to hell. And you don’t need cash for that ticket, that’s on the house.

When Jackie and his mates come rumbling in and start wanting to hire the services of a prostitute, the prostitute calmly tells them she doesn’t do ‘group’ jobs and suggests they check out Alamo on Dillon Street. Jackie doesn’t get the message and won’t take no for an answer. He’s already on a knife’s edge after the vitriol shot at him by Shellie and then having to drink toilet water by Dwight. The man can only take so many rejections and kicks to his ego. He pulls out a gun and tells the prostitute to get in.

Bad move.

Old Town is ruled by a matriarchy of prostitutes led by Gail wearing an S&M outfit that you can’t take your eyes off and has a ton of history with Dwight. In Dwight’s own words, he describes her as: “My warrior woman. My Valkyrie. You’ll always be mine. Always and never.” Thus, indicating that they will always do anything for each other, but they’ll never be together because theirs is a fire that will consume them both.

Gail and her girls have been watching Jackie (and Dwight) ever since they drove into Old Town with a cop car in pursuit (more on this in a minute). When Jackie makes the mistake of pulling out his gun on Becky the prostitute, Gail gives the signal for Miho to do her thing.

Ahh Miho… the Japanese angel of death. She makes merciless work of Jackie and his mates using her assortment of acrobatic and assassin moves combined with dual katanas and swastika shurikens.

It’s around this time of dismembering that Dwight starts getting this feeling in his gut that he can’t ignore. That type of feeling that screams at him that things don’t quite add up. Yes, Jackie and his goons are trouble. Yes, they’re nasty drunks. Yes, Jackie talks the tough talk and throws threats at people like confetti. Yes, Jackie-boy has a temper and has hit women. But, to Dwight’s knowledge, Jackie has never actually killed anyone.

In the aftermath of the slaughter, Dwight finds Jackie’s wallet and discovers to his horror that Shellie didn’t yell “stop” when he jumped out of her window, she yelled “cop”. As in, “He’s a cop!”

And not just any cop. Turns out Jackie-boy is Jack Rafferty, a hero cop. When Dwight flashes the badge at Gail, Miho and the rest of the girls, they know the proverbial has hit the fan.

Remember the cop car I mentioned before? The one that was in hot pursuit? Turns out, there is an uneasy truce between the police and the prostitutes of Old Town. The deal is the police give Gail and her girls in Old Town freedom to defend their turf and in exchange the cops get a slice of the profits made and free parties. The police also ensure Old Town can operate without intrusion from nefarious influences such as pimps and the mob. The cop car that was pursuing Jackie-boy turned around once he saw they would enter Old Town.

However, the truce goes all down the tube if a cop gets killed.

The action comes thick and fast once reality sinks in of what Dwight, Gail and company have done. Bodies are chopped up and stuffed into the boot of a car, Jack’s decapitated head starts talking to Dwight as he drives frantically to the pits to dump the bodies, mercenaries are hired to stop Dwight, the mob gets involved, there’s manipulation, there’s double-cross, and by the last page the body count will be far higher than Jackie and his goons.

It’s all classic crime-noir written and illustrated masterfully by Frank Miller. I have already spoken extensively about his artistic style in previous reviews of the Sin City series. All I will add in this review is Miho the assassin is a marvel, and I was happy to see rain swept scenes in this volume, which were absent in volume two.

The ongoing presence of Dwight McCarthy in volume three (he was the main character in volume two) demonstrates that Frank has more to tell of this character. While I am not as enarmoured with Dwight as I was with Marv (the main character in volume one), there’s enough to enjoy in the story and art that you’ll cast your eyes repeatedly over Sin City: The Big Fat Kill.

4.5 out of 5.

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