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Comic Book / Holy Terror

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Holy Terror is a graphic novel written and drawn by Frank Miller. Released in 2011, the 10th anniversary of 9-11, the story features a costumed vigilante called The Fixer and his semi-love interest Natalie Stack battling Al-Qaeda in their home of Empire City. Miller described it as "a piece of propaganda" and "is bound to offend just about everybody".

Not to be confused with the Batman 1991 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Holy Terror, nor the 1939 H. G. Wells novel The Holy Terror.


  • Aesop Amnesia: Okay, having to kill some of the terrorists was probably inevitable since they were willing to give up their own lives for the cause. Still, it kind of undermines the book's accusation that terrorists are evil because they care nothing for the sanctity of human life when the very next page has a smiling Fixer gleefully announcing "LET'S GET US SOME KILLING DONE!"
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Zig-zagged; the comic veers between portraying Muslims as being just plain Ax-Crazy, and implying that they're all part of some gigantic, labyrinthine plot to destroy Western civilization.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Right after The Fixer and Natalie Stack are hit with the first nail bomb, there's a cut to 10 minutes ago where the bomber, an exchange student named Amina, detonates herself and kills several people at a party by causing said explosion.
  • Ambiguous Gender: There's a partygoer of uncertain gender named Jaye who makes the mistake of falling for an exchange student named Amina, who turns out to be a terrorist. Amina detonates her suicide vest just as Jaye leans in for a kiss.
  • Anti-Hero: The Fixer may be Empire City's protector, but despite what Natalie Stack says, he's not a very "gentle soul". Case in point, he's described as a "gentle soul" while standing on a terrorist's back while the guy's suspended from his limbs... before tossing the guy into a grinder. That's also not taking into account the other acts of torturing and killing terrorists in painful ways, as well as the car theft. Then again, Natalie may have intended the whole "Gentle Soul" thing out of sarcasm.
  • The Artifact: Because this was originally written with (Miller's version of) Batman characters, we get a scene where Natalie spams the word "goddamn" in a sentence where she repetitively repeats things with a lot of repetition. She also uses her nails to go down the side of a building and makes comment about nine lives despite not being Catwoman or having any sort of cat theme. Fixer's Friend on the Force, meanwhile, straight-up is Commissioner Gordon.
  • Artifact Title: The title of the book when it was meant to be a Batman story was "Holy Terror, Batman!", echoing the catchphrase of Robin from the '60s Batman (1966) show.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The terrorist plot is foiled, but the head of the cell had previously gloated that there will be other cells to carry on the jihad. Further, the final scene has Donegal reflecting on how traumatized the experience has left him.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: While the Al-Qaeda leader does actually give a logical reason as to why he just doesn't kill Natalie Stack — he intends to execute her in a video, apparently under the impression that she's an actual heroine instead of a criminal who's pulling an Enemy Mine — if he'd actually got on with his plan rather than gloating at her, he might have spotted a heavily-armed Fixer arriving to wipe out his group.
  • Captain Ersatz: This book was originally meant to be a Batman story; as such some of its characters, despite Miller proclaiming it was no longer a Batman story, carry many superficial elements of Batman characters to the point that it may as well still be a Batman story. The Fixer is obviously Batman, Natalie Stack is Catwoman and Dan Donegal is Jim Gordon (the latter not even that different-looking). Even Empire City itself shares much with Gotham, such as the Statue of Liberty-esque statue that some versions of Gotham have. The vaguely Latina-looking police officer that's seen with Donegal for much of the comic may also be intended as a Renee Montoya expy.
  • Celibate Hero: The Fixer.
    The Fixer: "I hope I'm not in love with her. I've never fallen in love. I never want to fall in love. I must never fall in love. Never."
  • Dating Catwoman: The Fixer and Natalie Stack.
  • Demonization: Holy Terror is the target of a LOT of accusations that it does this to Muslims and those of the Islamic faith by implying that they are all in league with Al-Qaeda.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Amina the Muslim exchange student/Islamic suicide bomber is the Viper to party goer Jaye's Farmer.
  • For the Evulz: The comic's version of Al-Qaeda exists to do evil for the sake of doing evil. The local cell's leader even admits to Natalie Stack about having no clue what the organization's ultimate goals or motivations are.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Fixer shows no compassion at all to any of the terrorists, shooting them, breaking their spines and blowing them up.
  • Groin Attack: Natalie Stack kicks The Fixer in the groin during their chase when the story begins.
  • Indecisive Parody: The comic doesn't quite seem to know whether to fully embrace the absurdity of its premise, or try to be a hard-hitting political allegory. On the one hand, you have Batman and Catwoman knock-offs taking on terrorists. On the other hand, the story's depiction of Al Qaeda only differs from their real-world counterparts in as much as mainstream Islam has embraced them (because Islamophobic Author Tract) and they have more military hardware (although, if the leader is telling the truth, they also are some kind of conspiracy like The Illuminati in which Osama bin Laden was just a Mook Lieutenant, which... could be what Frank Miller really believes in, for all we know).
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The Fixer gets information out of a terrorist by blinding him and slamming his foot down on his spine to the point that it paralyzes him. When he's satisfied by the terrorist's answer, he executes him.
  • Just Between You and Me: Zig-zagged by the terrorist leader, who initially gives a valid reason for keeping Natalie Stack alive — so that they can film her being beheaded — then decides to spill the beans about his plan because "it's fun," only to then admit that he couldn't actually tell her anything useful if he wanted to, because even he doesn't know exactly how big Al-Qaeda is.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Empire City is invaded by a terrorist organization, has multiple suicide bombing attacks and even has its Expy of the Statue of Liberty blown up by enemy fighter jets. Despite all of this, the U.S. military does not make an appearance in the book.
  • Mook Lieutenant: To hear the boss of Al-Qaeda's plot tell it, Osama bin Laden was only "a slave beneath a slave beneath a slave".
  • The Napoleon: The al-Qaeda leader's full height is roughly the same as Natalie Stack's when she's sitting seiza style.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Al-Qaeda's plan to use a chemical bomb in the city is only thwarted because the nail bomb and fighter jets they used previously caused not only an investigation by costumed vigilantes, but also likely resulted in people fleeing the city en masse.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Al-Qaeda has a massive army with jets and tanks and rocket launchers, and this is just a tiny fraction of their total holdings. The question of how they get the funding for all of that is not answered.
  • Oh, Crap!: One terrorist gives off this reaction when his suicide bomb fails to go off in a bar, leaving him surrounded with no weapons.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The Fixer makes some very scathing remarks towards Muslims.
    The Fixer: "So, Muhammad, pardon me for guessing your name, but you've got to admit that the odds are pretty good it's Muhammad."
  • Protagonist Without a Past: The Fixer and Natalie Stacks have no established backstories or motives. The most we get is the Fixer vaguely talking about becoming a vigilante to prepare for the terrorist attack.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The then-recent death of Osama bin Laden briefly gets referenced near the end of the book.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The final version of the story still reads like it was part of the Dark Knight-verse.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The terrorist on the cover has a giant knife with two serrated edges. A terrorist in the story has the same knife that he uses to attack Natalie Stack. She takes it and cuts his head off with it.
  • Show Some Leg: Natalie does this (wearing fishnet stockings under a hijab and robes) to shock the terrorists — and possibly as another Take That! against Muslims.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Again, the Fixer. His preferred method of stopping someone? Killing them.
  • Suicide Attack: The terrorists attack with suicide bombers before sending in jets and stinger missiles.
  • Take That!:
    • Jabs at Al-Qaeda are littered throughout the comic.
    • The various egregious shots of shoe bottoms are most likely Take Thats to Muslims in generalnote .
    • The comic sometimes breaks from the story to show a series of panels involving real-world figures and events. The punchline is a bunch of youngsters watching what is clearly a Transformers movie on the big screen, calling it "Awesome!"
  • That Poor Cat: Rare comic/literature example — among the panels portraying the faces of the bomb casualties is a picture of a random cat.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The storm of nails and razor blades that the suicide bombers release never seems to die down in the first 90 pages of the story, instead only seeming to grow bigger with each showing. It downright becomes a Literal Metaphor by the time it catches up with the Fixer and Natalie Stacks — there's no way the cloud of shrapnel could have retained that much momentum and cohesion after the initial detonations and across such distances.