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July 23, 2010

2010 Eisner Award Nominees: The Life and Times of Martha Washington

In 1990, Frank Miller (Sin City) and artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) introduced the comic industry and fans to a woman who, despite where she came from or the obstacles before her, rose above it all and triumphed against what usually seemed impossible odds. That woman was Martha Washington, and Dark Horse collected Miller and Gibbons’s entire groundbreaking series (her story ended in 2007) in a fantastic looking HUGE 600 page hardcover volume. If you were lucky enough to pick this edition up when it was released in 2009, it was a bit pricey between $250.00 and $300.00. Lucky for the rest of us that the book was just recently released in a more affordable and smaller edition in TPB (trade paper back) for $29.99. Now, among all of the accolades and praise this book has received over the years, The Life and Times of Martha Washington In the Twenty-First Century is nominated again for an Eisner Award, but this time  in the category of Best Publication Design, which was done by David Nestelle.

Martha’s story begins with her birth on March 11, 1995 in the Cabrini Green Project of Chicago, and her unique life takes her from those streets to becoming a soldier fighting against the armies of the fast food corporations and becoming a reluctant hero. She goes up against the Aryan Trust and the always creepy Surgeon General, while the back drop shows a world where amendments have been thrown out, changed, and added to benefit those already in power. The world is fighting several wars which have led to planet wide devastation, and the U.S. is in the middle of multiple civil wars after having been split up into nine separate territories.

Martha Washington TPB

This is the world that has shaped Martha, and through  all the greed and corruption she fights the good fight, and is either too stubborn to die or just too damn hard to kill, but either way she ends up helping redefine the word “hero” with the help of Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons in a very human way. And by that I mean without the benefit of super powers or mystical abilities or even some genius intellect; she’s just a regular person trying to do what’s right, even when it might seem wrong. One of my favorite stories in this massive book that helps illustrate this would be “Insubordination,” which is Frank Miller’s thank you to the legendary Jack Kirby, and the words on that final page of the story are just perfect. She even ends up in space a couple of times saving a world that probably doesn’t deserve it nor wants it, but she does it all the same and with quite a varied cast of supporting characters along the way.

Regardless of which version of The Life and Times of Martha Washington you decide to pick up, you will still get the complete series in chronological order, including the various short stories that were in the Dark Horse Presents books, as well as the one that was included with the Martha Washington action figure titled Logistics. There are also various sketches and cover galleries, along with chapter commentaries from Dave Gibbons, and even a letter to Martha from Frank Miller. All of it is wrapped up in a beautiful looking book, whether hardcover or the TPB, all thanks to Eisner Award Nominee David Estelle.

Infinite Speech



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  2. Billy

    Great piece Speech! Sounds like a heavy, but good read.

  3. It’ll take some time to get through but it’s worth it man. All of the extras really beef up what is already a great series for a great character. The commentaries by Gibbons bring a whole new level to each chapter as well as some pretty cool cover galleries and alternate covers by Walt Simonson, Art Adams and a few others.

  4. Just realized that there is a 20yr gap in the story here and hopefully Miller and Gibbons can come back to this character.

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