Martha Washington Dies One Shot


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Martha Washington Dies One Shot


  • Words: Frank Miller
  • Art: Dave Gibbons
  • Inks: Dave Gibbons
  • Colors: Angus McKie
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jul 11, 2007

A one shot that bids farewell to Frank Miller’s popular, persistent creation, Martha Washington. But this one’s only for the hardcore fans. You’ve been warned.

Martha Washington Dies is a final batch of pages to wrap up a creation, a concept, a conceit that – due to its take on the very human, universal concept of rebellion and oppression and liberty – is forever timely (or at least has proven so thus far in human history). It’s a great idea, a beautiful one even, that a creation could procure for itself a coda, a nod and a sigh and a wave as it rides the White Ship to Aman. However, this particular one shot in question is a 17 page story, with 4 splashes and 4 double-spashes, leaving a meager five pages to sport two panels or more of story each. Meaning, basically, there isn’t much here. It’s a very short, very sweet postscript to a larger epic, an ever-so-brief reminiscence and revisit to put to rest an icon whose time, apparently, has come.

There’s no story to speak of, no event, no happenstance that need be noted to complete the epic of Martha Washington. Largely, her story is told inside Give Me Liberty, Martha Washington Goes to War, Martha Washington Saves the World, and the two one shots Happy Birthday Martha Washington and Martha Washington Stranded in Space. This current one shot isn’t a story at all, but rather a way for the writer and artist to put it all behind them, I suppose. The message of the tale is not a complex one – death is the ultimate liberty, and the "struggle" (whatever that might prove itself to be at whatever time) will forever continue, remaining a central part to human existence.

So if you’re looking for anything that might remotely entertain, look somewhere else. Something to broaden your mind? Well, maybe, though this isn’t exactly a thorough exploration on death, religion, the soul, society, the need for resistance, or anything else for that matter. It mentions such topics, but proves far too brief and skeletal-thin in content to satisfy any sort of honest deliberation. Looking to say goodbye to Martha Washington? Well, you’ll get to do that much, though even in this the comic isn’t terribly satisfying. Miller outright plagiarizes the century-hero concept, stapling it onto poor Martha whether it suits her or not, then has her spout some very Sunday-school worthy platitudes, and then has her burst into fireworks. And then you get to go home.

Dave Gibbons is, of course, back as well, and his artwork hasn’t suffered a whit in all the years since MW began. He offers a worthwhile bunch of splashes, but then Gibbons has never been a splashy kind of artist, and having a large number of double-page spreads under his pen – while certainly beautiful – isn’t the worth-the-price-of-admission (especially not this book’s admission) number of frame-worthy masterpieces the comic needed to be something worth buying.

The back of the book, to drive the point home, is littered with lackluster extras: an unused rough cover sketch (not even a finished one or inked or colored or bloody anything), and the original Give Me Liberty outline (the outline, fer chrissakes! Who the #^$% cares?). So this is a relatively pointless comic. Ranks right up there with most of Avatar’s 1/2 issues and even gives Straczynski’s recent Spider-Ham one-shot a run for its how-to-waste-readers’ money. Sad to see such a profligate product come out of Dark Horse, though largely, this is (of course) because it will sell due to its built-in audience infrastructure.

One last warning: the last page of the comic advertises an upcoming "The Complete Epic" hardcover for 2008, which will collect everything Martha Washington, including this one shot, which for all intents and purposes makes this craptacular one shot nothing more than a preview for the trade. So wait for the trade, if you haven’t already wasted your money on this cheap-o Give Us Money So We Can Give You a Comic That’ll Make You Want Death.

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