By Ben Snyder
Despite the disappointment I felt last month after reading Xerxes #1, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the follow up issue Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and The Rise of Alexander #2. Unfortunately, I am left feeling as thought his series is entirely unnecessary and disappointing. Frank Miller’s script continues to be a slog due to his overused narration and reliance on Greek prayers and feels half finished. Miller’s art however takes it to another level, an extremely poor one. It all collides to create a feeling that this entire endeavor was rushed and unfinished.
I think I’d rather the story be confusing that way I could hope that it would straighten out eventually. But no, the story is pretty straightforward so far as it depicts the titular fall of Darius by the hands of the Greeks and lays out the reasoning for Xerxes’s hatred of them. However it fails to do much else. Militades is further emasculated essentially turned into a punching bag and Themistokles takes his rightful place as leader of the Greeks. But this growth feels nullified knowing that a time jump is taking place and we know that these characters have little to do in the original series.
Then there is the successful plan to kill Darius by Aeskylos’s spears. It was a good plan by Themistokles initially but I really can’t help to wonder why he wouldn’t aim for Darius’s son as well considering he was standing right beside him. It’s pretty obvious that Xerxes would be seeing revenge for the death of his father. And then there’s the ending of Xerxes wandering through the desert. I simply find this entire scene laughable, especially Xerxes being confronted by a comically proportioned mummy. I just don’t see how a character willing to nobly endure starvation transforms into the Xerxes we know in 300, if anything the transformation would work in reverse.
As mentioned prior, Millar’s art is almost laughable in this issue. It’s definitely a step back from his masterworks or even the first entry in this series. There are simply too many elements that I don’t understand. Why does everyone look like they’re wearing too much eyeliner? What is the point of making Militades look like a woman besides humiliation? Why does everything look like it was designed and drawn hastily and half-heartedly?
The most heinous crime is Millar’s pulled out overhead view of Athens. It could have been a unique and organic way to get a layout of the city that the protagonists are risking their lives to defend but instead it looks flat, cramped, and uninspiring. The various statues depicting the pantheon look ominously disproportionate as well. But once again is this layout even necessary seeing as we don’t know how relevant the city of Athens will play in this story?
Xerxes: the Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #2 continues the series tendency to disappoint. There are increasingly few reasons to stick with this series. The only redeeming hope is that perhaps Alexander might add an interesting wrinkle or two, but due to the state of the series now, I doubt I’ll be sticking around long enough to find out.
Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and The Rise of Alexander #2
Dark Horse Comics