Xerxes has returned home to the Persian Empire as its ruler. We see the beginning and ending of his rule. We see him seeking a wife and finding it in Esther, niece of Mordecai of Judea. She marries Xerxes on the condition that he and Persia will spare the people of Zion. The king agrees and keeps his promise… to a point.
We are at the third issue of Frank Miller's Xerxes comic, and the comic is just now finally about the character of Xerxes. Coincidentally, it's the strongest issue of the series so far. It's more focused in some ways and more disjointed in others. It's about a single character, but it bounces across the span of his life for seemingly little reason.
The comic still isn't particularly good. It's better, but the first two issues were abysmal. Xerxes doesn't have much of a character. He is a ruler and a conqueror; those are broad qualifiers and don't tell us much about him as a human being.
It doesn't help that the comic reads like a summary of itself, and you never feel grounded in an actual story. You just float through a series of semi-historical events, never learning about even a fictionalized version of the people who perpetrated said events.
The art still leaves a lot to be desired too. There are some interesting stylistic choices made, particularly the mounds of jewelry dangling from the body of Xerxes and Esther. Beyond that, the visuals are messy, undercooked, and unappealing. The color art is simplistic and unexciting too.
Xerxes #5 is another unexciting comic in what could have been a promising prequel. This issue is actually about the titular Xerxes, but we do not learn a thing about him. Plus, the unfocused nature of the story leaves you feeling detached and uninvested. The art does little to salvage any of it. This one is better than the previous installments, but it doesn't earn a recommendation. Give it a pass.
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