Book Review: Sin City (Volume 5) – Family Values by Frank Miller

TL;DR – Dwight and deadly Miho are on a mission. A mission that revolves around the powder keg tensions between Sin City’s mob (led by Wallenquist) and mafia (led by Magliozzi). You will want to read this just to see Miho in action. Who knew roller skates could be so deadly?

Summary (warning: spoilers)

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

Herr Wallenquist (aka The Kraut) is the mobster leader of a powerful criminal organisation in Sin City. Through his manipulations, he gets one of his main men, Bruno into politics. Prior to this political elevation, Bruno was one of Wallenquist’s hitmen and did a job in killing a snitch, who happened to be in bed with a beautiful woman at the time by the name of Andrea. Bruno, ever the professional and enjoying his work a little too much, ensured there were no witnesses resulting in Andrea being collateral damage.

Turns out Andrea is the beloved niece of Giacco Magliozzi, the Don of the local mafia. Magliozzi becomes consumed with the desire for revenge, and after several fruitful years, eventually obtains proof that Bruno (now in politics and espousing ‘family values’) was the man who murdered his niece. Magliozzi orders the hit on Bruno, knowing this will break the truce between him and the Kraut, and the hitman-cum-politician gets gunned down at a diner by Vito, one of Magliozzi’s nephews.

Dwight McCarthy is sent in by Gail (leader of the prostitutes in Old Town) to investigate Bruno’s death. With the help of deadly assassin, Miho, he discovers the circumstances and the individuals involved.

And it all leads to Magliozzi. So, when Dwight and Miho pay him a visit, he’s confused as to why the women of Old Town have gotten involved. Initially, he thinks that the Kraut has sent Dwight and Miho to kill him. But Dwight tells Magliozzi that that’s what they want everyone on the outside to think.

While Miho wanders around (on her roller skates) finishing off the Don’s associates, Dwight then sits down with Magliozzi at gun point to tell him a story

It’s a story that Magliozzi should understand. After all it’s all about family. And there is nothing more valuable than family.

Review

Frank Miller’s fifth instalment in the Sin City graphic novel series is, by far, the slimmest compared to previous volumes. In terms of artwork, the ‘less is more’ approach is in full effect. Miller’s panels are all crammed with the glorious black and white art of its predecessors that any astute reader will pore over, but Miller ensures he doesn’t indulge too much in the art at the expense of moving the story along.

And don’t be deceived. While the pages are less, the story written in it is no less compelling. The story of two criminal organisations banging heads is made intriguing by the fact that Dwight, Miho and the working women of Old Town enter the scene for reasons hidden to us.

If you’ve read Sin City (Volume 3) – The Big Fat Kill, then you will know that Old Town is a law onto themselves. The women there have no interest in the mob or the mafia, and so long as you respect their rules, you can explore Old Town for as much fun as you want (assuming you have the cash to pay for it).

Why they have got themselves in-between Magliozzi and Wallenquist is a mystery, and it is this unknown that will compel you to read to the final pages of Sin City (Volume 5) – Family Values.

And while the reveal is not anything earth-shattering, it does fit perfectly in its central theme of ‘family values’. Miller doesn’t attempt to be too clever. He stays true to the crime noir genre and delivers an enjoyable yarn.

Though I will sound like a broken record, the character Dwight McCarthy is one that Miller returns to and continues to tell stories about even though I do not find Dwight that interesting.

The character Marv in Sin City (Volume 1) – The Hard Goodbye and John Hartigan in Sin City (Volume 4) – That Yellow Bastard are far more engrossing, and the stories in those volumes are more intricate and pack more emotional punch.

However, this is small quip, when considered against the overall body of work Miller has generated. He has justified himself as a master storyteller and artist.

So, grab a coffee, hunker down with these graphic novels and enjoy the ride.

4 out of 5.