2,374 words on 300.
by Mike Baron

The movie version of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 is better than the graphic novel. The best adaptations add meat and poetry to the bones of the source material. The Godfather is a better movie than book. So is A History of Violence.

The noted military historian Victor David Hanson says here that though Miller may have fudged the details, he got the big story right: how a handful of Spartans, aided by some Thebans and Thespians (those boys could act) fought off a much larger Persian force for three days, allowing Greece to get its shit together for the coming storm.

© 2007 Warner Bros.

The movie moves like a house on fire. Gerald Butler's Leonidas joyfully barks orders in a Scotch brogue. Lena Heady as his wife Queen Gorgo brings dramatic heft to her add-on role. I wish I had a girlfriend named Gorgo. The battle scenes must be seen to be believed. The camera zooms in like a sky-cam, switching angles, circling around to reveal all aspects of the fight. The Spartans spiral their way through the marauding hordes in a distinctly Eastern manner. They got some Hong Kong guy to do the fight choreography. Occasionally the CGI becomes a little too obvious but for the most part it's a bloody good ride. Director Zach Snyder knows what he's doing.

It's a new form of cinema. The battle scenes are intense but seldom gruesome. You always know you're watching computer-generated affects. It doesn't mug you like the opening to Saving Private Ryan. It's sanitized, comic-book gore.

Persian ruler Xerxes' appears atop a coal barge-sized platform with gold elephants and storks being carried by two thousand slaves. Others have commented on how the Persians look like drag queens while the brave lads of Sparta look like Village People. Fan boys can take 300 as straight war epic while gay viewers can ogle the abs and body piercings. No question there's a gay subtext. The Spartans practiced a style of sex also known as the "Greek" style. It's so post ironic it makes my head ache.

The main problem with the film and the graphic novel is a lack of depth in the characters and the story. There's no real attempt at verisimilitude, at imagining life in ancient times the way it was lived. For all their fine words Leonadis and Gorgo never emerge as fully fleshed people. But that is a minor quibble compared to pissing off the ruler of Iran, one thing the movie succeeded in doing.

Newsflash: Nexus Returns!

"Space Opera," the four part Nexus story beginning in July, is an ideal jumping-on spot for new readers. Deftly combining back story with Nexus' present Baron and Rude take the readers on a fantastic journey into the heart of darkness. Cataclysmic events will forever change the Nexus universe. Major characters will die. New characters will emerge. Nexus is one of the most honored comic books of all time. The new adventure will thrust Nexus to the forefront of graphic literature.

Just keep telling yourself: it's only a comic book.

Backed with endorsements from Neil Gaiman, Joe Quesada, Erik Larsen, Joe Casey, and Mike Oeming, "Space Opera" is certain to attract the attention of young readers who may have heard of the title but know nothing of its contents. Nexus regularly snags casual readers who flip through the art and are stunned by its beauty and cosmic sweep. The new comic will spark a synergy with Dark Horse's Nexus Archives, which are now slated for six issues.

© 2007 Rude Dude Productions

"The return of Baron and Rude and NEXUS is one of those events that gives me hope for the medium. I've been waiting for this for a long time and for me, personally, it means everything. I mean, how often does someone have a chance to say these words: My favorite comic book is back!" --Joe Casey

"Nexus made me what I am today. Baron and Rude are the reasons I do creator owned comics. Without Nexus, there would be no Powers, and one less creator out there. Nexus is easily one of the best comic series ever, I can't wait to see it return!" --Mike Avon Oeming, Powers co-creator

"I love Nexus. It's complex yet straightforward, it's involving and compelling and engaging and drop dead gorgeous. What's not to love?" --Erik Larsen

"Learning that Nexus is coming back is like hearing you're going home again after years in the wilderness." --Neil Gaiman

Mike Baron worked for the Boston Phoenix, Boston After Dark, and the Real Paper. He broke into comics with Nexus, his groundbreaking science fiction title co-created with illustrator Steve Rude. Baron has written Marvel's Punisher, DC's Batman, Deadman, and Flash. Nexus has garnered honors too numerous to mention, including Eisners for both creators. Baron has written Star Wars for Dark Horse, Turok, Dinosaur Hunter and Archer & Armstrong for Valiant, and has three issues of Legends of the Dark Knight in the works.

A prolific creator, Baron is at least partly responsible for The Badger, Ginger Fox, Spyke, Feud, and many other comic book titles. He currently has two new web comics up at Big Head Press. The Architect is a horror story based on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Hook is rock and roll science fiction - think Farenheit 451 only instead of banning books they have banned music.
Volume 3 out now!

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