Dark Horse just sent me a review copy of The Life And Times Of Martha Washington In The Twenty-First Century, a gigantic, slipcased hardcover containing the full run of the Give Me Liberty comics and associated titles.
I have Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty graphic novels to thank for getting me interested in graphic novels as a literary form. I read the first Give Me Liberty collection when I was seventeen, after having it thrust insistently into my hands by my roommate Erik Stewart. Erik judged — correctly — that I'd find in Miller's groundbreaking tale the same satisfaction I got from reading the best sf novels. He was so right.
Give Me Liberty is the story of Martha Washington, a kid from a futuristic version of Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green projects, simply called "The Green," who joins the US Army in order to escape from poverty. Martha finds herself serving in the army of a country locked in a death-spiral, plagued by political assassination, partisan division, secessionists, cynical corporatism… Her military education becomes a political education and on the way, Miller and Gibbons impart a raging, angry story about corruption and injustice, paced so relentlessly that I found myself buying the single issues between the collections and re-reading them looking for clues as to what might come next.
Miller created Give Me Liberty for Dark Horse after he jumped ship from DC, for whom he had made a fortune with his noir Batman: Dark Knight books, which changed the field forever. DC loved what Miller had done, but they wanted to impose restrictions on his creativity intended to assuage blue-noses who were worried that comics might corrupt the kiddees. Miller told them to pound sand and went to Dark Horse and created this remarkable story, which prefigures some of the best sf comics written since, including Ellis's brilliant Transmetropolitan and Brian Wood's fantastic DMZ.
The Life And Times Of Martha Washington In The Twenty-First Century is the perfect way to revisit that remarkable story or to discover it for the first time. A giant, heavy, high-quality book, it is made for a lazy afternoon on the sofa or the carpet, devouring the whole Martha Washington canon (along with sketches, notes and other assorted nice bits). It'd be a fine (and potentially life-changing — see above) gift, and makes for a very satisfying indulgence, too.