300 (comics)

300 is a historically inspired 1998 comic book limited series written and illustrated by Frank Miller with painted colors by Lynn Varley.

The comic is a fictional retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae and the events leading up to it from the perspective of Leonidas of Sparta. 300 was particularly inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, a film Miller watched as a young boy.[1][2] The work was adapted in 2006 to a film of the same name.[2]

300 comic
book cover
Publication information
PublisherDark Horse Comics
FormatLimited series
Publication dateMay – September 1998
No. of issues5
Creative team
Written byFrank Miller
Artist(s)Frank Miller
Colorist(s)Lynn Varley
Collected editions
HardcoverISBN 1-56971-402-9

Publication and awards

Each page of the novel is illustrated as a double-page spread. When the series was gathered into hardcover form, the individual pages were twice as wide as a normal comic. Miller's art style for this project was similar to his Sin City work, although the addition of consistent color is an obvious difference.

300 was initially published as a monthly five-issue comic book limited series by Dark Horse Comics, the first issue published in May 1998. The issues were titled Honor, Duty, Glory, Combat and Victory. The series won three Eisner Awards in 1999: "Best Limited Series", "Best Writer/Artist" for Frank Miller and "Best Colorist" for Lynn Varley. The work was collected as a hardcover volume in 1999.

The popularity of the film has boosted sales of the trade paperback edition. The 10th printing had an announced print run of 40,000 copies, with an 11th printing to follow. This is in addition to the 88,000 copies already sold since the initial volume was released in 1999.[3]


In 480 BC, King Leonidas of Sparta gathers 300 of his best men to fight the upcoming Persian invasion. In what is likely a suicide mission, they and their allies plan to stop King Xerxes' invasion of Greece at the narrow cliffs of the "Hot Gates" (Thermopylae). The terrain prevents the Greeks from being overwhelmed by Xerxes' superior numbers (a military tactic usually called "defeat in detail").

Before the battle starts, Ephialtes, a deformed Spartan, begs Leonidas to let him fight but is rejected due to his hunchbacked form, which prevents him from lifting his shield high enough to be of use for the phalanx. Ephialtes becomes so desperate by Leonidas' refusal that he throws himself off a cliff.

The Spartans and their allies successfully hold off the Persians for two days and nights. During a break in the fighting, Xerxes meets with Leonidas and offers wealth and power in exchange for his surrender. Leonidas declines, and battle continues. Meanwhile, Ephialtes awakes from his suicide attempt and decides to betray the Greeks by telling the Persians about the existence of a small pass that allows Xerxes to attack them from behind.

Learning of the Persian maneuvers the Greeks realize their position is indefensible, but the Spartans and a few others refuse to retreat. Before engaging the Persians for the last time, Leonidas orders one Spartan (Dilios) to return home so that he might survive to tell their story.

On the third day Xerxes has the Spartans surrounded, their remaining (Thespians) allies already dead. He gives Leonidas one final chance to surrender and kneel to him. After some hesitation, Leonidas finally complies and throws down his arms and kneels. This, however, is a trick by Leonidas, and signals Stelios, a loyal Spartan soldier, to jump from his back and kill a general. The Spartans fight. Leonidas throws his spear at Xerxes, intending to make the "God-King" bleed, and succeeds. The Spartans are killed to the last man by a storm of arrows.

The story then shifts about a year later and ends as now-Captain Dilios relates the heroic sacrifice of Leonidas and his Spartan comrades to his troops before the historic Battle of Plataea.


Writer Alan Moore has criticized 300 as being historically inaccurate, with particular reference to the characters' attitudes towards homosexuality:

There was just one particular line in it where one of the Spartan soldiers—I'll remind you, this is Spartans that we're talking about—one of them was talking disparagingly about the Athenians, and said, ‘Those boy-lovers.' You know, I mean, read a book, Frank. The Spartans were famous for something other than holding the bridge at Thermopylae, they were quite famous for actually enforcing man-boy love amongst the ranks as a way of military bonding. That specific example probably says more about Frank's grasp of history than it does about his grasp of homosexuality, so I'm not impugning his moral situation there. I'm not saying it was homophobic; just wasn't very well researched.[4]

Miller, in the letters page of the series, replied to accusations of homophobia from a reader regarding the phrase "Those boy-lovers":

If I allowed my characters to express only my own attitudes and beliefs, my work would be pretty darn boring. If I wrote to please grievance groups, my work would be propaganda.

For the record: being a warrior class, the Spartans almost certainly did practice homosexuality. There's also evidence they tended to lie about it. It's not a big leap to postulate that they ridiculed their hedonistic Athenian rivals for something they themselves did. "Hypocrisy" is, after all, a word we got from the Greeks. What's next? A letter claiming that, since the Spartans owned slaves and beat their young, I do the same? The times we live in.[5]

Writer David Brin has also criticized 300 as being historically inaccurate, with particular reference to the bravery and efficacy of the non-Spartan Greeks:

That Athenian triumph deserves a movie! And believe me, it weighed heavily on the real life Leonidas, ten years later. 300 author Frank Miller portrays the Spartans' preening arrogance in the best possible light, as a kind of endearing tribal machismo. Miller never hints at the underlying reason for Leonidas's rant, a deep current of smoldering shame over how Sparta sat out Marathon, leaving it to Athenian amateurs, like the playwright Aeschylus, to save all of Greece. The "shopkeepers" whom Leonidas outrageously and ungratefully despises in the film.[6]

During the Battle of Marathon, ten years previous to Thermopylae, the Spartans had been obligated to honor the Carnea, a religious festival during which military engagements were forbidden.[7] Once the religious prohibition was lifted, the Spartan troops covered the 220 kilometers (140 mi) to Athens in a quick three days and arrived only one day after the battle had taken place. The Spartans toured the battlefield at Marathon, and agreed that the Athenians had won a great victory.[8] Xerxes' invasion happened to coincide yet again with the celebration of the Carnea. This time, however, the Spartans chose not to hold back their entire army in deference to the festival, but instead sent an advance force of 300 men under Leonidas, who were to be reinforced by a full contingent of Spartan warriors after the festival concluded. It is impossible to know for certain whether this change in policy regarding the Carnea was based in shame about missing Marathon (as Brin suggests) or merely marked a reinterpretation of the military threat posed by the invading Persians. All Herodotus tells us is that the Spartan officials did not think that the engagement at Thermopylae would be decided so quickly and intended the main part of their force to arrive before the fighting broke out.[9]

References in other works

There are references to the Battle at Thermopylae in several of Frank Miller's other comic books. In Sin City: The Big Fat Kill, Dwight McCarthy considers Leonidas' choice of "where to fight" and manages to loosely recreate the Spartan defense tactics by cornering the enemy gang in a tight alley; they then annihilate them with heavy gunfire and explosives. Also in Hell and Back when Wallace is drugged he sees his friend as Leonidas with a machine gun. In The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Miller's "omega" Batman stories, there are references to a character named "Hot Gates" (the literal translation of Thermopylae), an adult film star who first makes a version of Snow White, and then declares herself Dictator of Ohio.

In the Emmy Award-winning episode "Jack and the Spartans" of the cartoon Samurai Jack, Jack meets a group of Spartan warriors fighting Aku's minions. This episode was partially inspired by Miller's comics.[10]

Film adaptation

Frank Miller served as executive producer to adapt his work for film. It used greenscreen technology to capture the comic book feel; the film is in fact notable for remaining extremely faithful to its source material as a result. It was released in both conventional cinemas and IMAX in 2007.

Video game adaptation

A video game based on the movie and the graphic novel was released in 2007.

Further reading

In the afterword for 300, Frank Miller recommends the following books:

Collected editions

  • ISBN 1-56971-402-9 Hardcover, 88 pages, Dark Horse Comics


  1. ^ Frank Miller, 300 #3 (July 1998),"Slings & Arrows" letters page, Dark Horse Comics
  2. ^ a b Ito, Robert (November 26, 2006). "The Gore of Greece, Torn From a Comic". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Sales skyrocket for Miller's 300 graphic novel". Newsarama.com. Archived from the original on 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  4. ^ Furey, Emmett (2007-07-19). "Homosexuality in Comics: Part IV". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 22 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  5. ^ Frank Miller, 300 #4 (August 1998), "Combat" letters page, Dark Horse Comics
  6. ^ Brin, David (2011-11-13). "Move over, Frank Miller: or why the Occupy Wall Street Kids are Better than the #$%! Spartans". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  7. ^ Holland, pp. 187–190
  8. ^ Herodotus VI, 120
  9. ^ Herodotus VII, 206
  10. ^ Samurai Jack: XXV: Jack And The Spartans – TV.com

External links

Alias Enterprises

Alias Enterprises is a United States publishing company. Their main divisions are Alias Comics (all-ages comic books) and Cross Culture (Christian comic books). Based in San Diego, California, it was founded in January 2005 by Brett Burner and Mike S. Miller. They publish comics such as Lullaby, The 10th Muse, The Legend of Isis, and Sixgun Samurai.

All-Star Superman

All-Star Superman is a twelve-issue American comic book series featuring Superman that was published by DC Comics. The series ran from November 2005 to October 2008. The series was written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Frank Quitely, and digitally inked by Jamie Grant. DC claimed that this series would "strip down the Man of Steel to his timeless, essential elements".The series was the second to be launched in 2005 under DC's All-Star imprint, the first being All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. These series were attempts by DC to allow major comics creators a chance to tell stories showcasing these characters without being restricted by DC Universe continuity.

Identity Crisis (DC Comics)

Identity Crisis is a seven-issue comic book limited series published by DC Comics from June to December in 2004. It was created by writer Brad Meltzer and the artistic team of penciler Rags Morales and inker Michael Bair.

Infinite Crisis

"Infinite Crisis" is a 2005–2006 comic book storyline published by DC Comics, consisting of an eponymous, seven-issue comic book limited series written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Ivan Reis, and Jerry Ordway, and a number of tie-in books. The main miniseries debuted in October 2005, and each issue was released with two variant covers: one by Pérez, and one by Jim Lee and Sandra Hope.

The series storyline was a sequel to DC's 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which "rebooted" much of the DC continuity in an effort to fix 50 years of contradictory character history. It revisited characters and concepts from that earlier Crisis, including the existence of DC's Multiverse. Some of the characters featured were alternate versions of comic icons such as an alternate Superman named Kal-L, who came from a parallel universe called Earth-Two. A major theme was the nature of heroism, contrasting the often dark and conflicted modern-day heroes with memories of "lighter" and ostensibly more noble and collegial heroes of American comic books' earlier days.

Infinite Crisis #1 was ranked first in the top 300 comics for October 2005 with pre-order sales of 249,265. This was almost double the second ranked comic House of M #7 which had pre-order sales of 134,429. Infinite Crisis #2 was also the top seller in top 300 comics for November 2005 with pre-order sales of 207,564.

Inhumans vs. X-Men

Inhumans vs. X-Men, also stylized IvX or IVX, was a 2016 American comic book limited series published by Marvel Comics. The series ran for seven issues, beginning with a prologue issue #0 in November 2016 before officially beginning in December 2016 and ending in March 2017. The series was written by Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire with art from Leinil Francis Yu, Kenneth Rocafort, and Javi Garron. The series features a battle over a biological substance named the Terrigen Mist, which the alien Inhumans need to survive but is deadly to the mutant X-Men and other mutant individuals.

Jeph Loeb

Joseph "Jeph" Loeb III () is an American film and television writer, producer and comic book writer. Loeb was a producer/writer on the TV series Smallville and Lost, writer for the films Commando and Teen Wolf, and a writer and co-executive producer on the NBC TV show Heroes from its premiere in 2006 to November 2008. In 2010, Loeb became Executive Vice President of Marvel Television.A four-time Eisner Award winner and five-time Wizard Fan Awards winner, Loeb's comic book work, which has appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, includes work on many major characters, including Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Hulk, Captain America, Cable, Iron Man, Daredevil, Supergirl, the Avengers, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, much of which he has produced in collaboration with artist Tim Sale.

Speakeasy Comics

Speakeasy Comics was a Canadian publishing company of comic books and graphic novels which operated from 2004–2006. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Speakeasy published monthly comics, creator-owned independent series, original graphic novels, and collected out-of-print creator-owned comics series that had originated with other companies. Its best-known titles were Atomika, Beowulf, The Grimoire, and Rocketo.

Although Speakeasy made a big public relation splash and announced a large lineup of monthly titles, it had trouble almost from the beginning in following through with its plans. Warren Ellis characterized the short-lived company as "one publisher getting it wrong from start to finish: releasing too many books, without a support structure, releasing comics without a dedicated marketing plan."

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, also known as DK2, is a 2001-2002 DC Comics three-issue limited series comic book written and illustrated by Frank Miller and colored by Lynn Varley. The series is a sequel to Miller's 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns. It tells the story of an aged Bruce Wayne who returns from three years in hiding, training his followers and instigating a rebellion against Lex Luthor's dictatorial rule over the United States. The series features an ensemble cast of superheroes including Catgirl, Superman, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, The Flash, and the Atom.

The Mighty Avengers

The Mighty Avengers is a comic book series that was published by Marvel Comics. Originally written by Brian Michael Bendis, also the writer of New Avengers, the title first featured an officially sanctioned Avengers team of registered superheroes, residing in New York City as part of the Fifty State Initiative, as opposed to the unlicensed team featured in The New Avengers. This first incarnation of the team is led by Iron Man and Ms. Marvel, with the second lineup featuring Hank Pym as the leader, and the third led by Luke Cage and Monica Rambeau.

The Ultimates 3

The Ultimates 3 was a five-issue, monthly comic book miniseries published in 2008 by Marvel Comics in the Ultimate Marvel imprint. Written by Jeph Loeb, and illustrated by Joe Madureira, it is a sequel to The Ultimates and The Ultimates 2, as well as a prelude to Ultimatum. A sequel entitled Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates was released in 2010 also written by Loeb. The series continues the stories of the Ultimates.

The Winter Men

The Winter Men is an American comic book limited series published by Wildstorm Productions in 2005. The series was written by Brett Lewis, with art by John Paul Leon.The story is about a Russian policeman who is the product of a Soviet project to create superhumans.

Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra

Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra is a four-issue comic book mini-series published by Marvel Comics written by Greg Rucka with art by Salvador Larroca. Marvel characters Daredevil and Elektra are introduced to the Ultimate universe in the series in October 2002. A sequel to the series called Ultimate Elektra was released in August 2004.

Ultimate Elektra

Ultimate Elektra is a five-issue comic book limited series, which serves as a follow-up to Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra. Both were published by Marvel Comics under the Ultimate Marvel imprint. Devil's Due is written by Mike Carey, with pencils by Salvador Larroca.


The Ultimates are a group of superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team was created by writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch, and first appeared in The Ultimates #1 (March 2002), as part of the company's Ultimate Marvel imprint. The team is a modern reimagining of the superhero team the Avengers.

Ultimatum (comics)

"Ultimatum" is a 2009 comic book storyline published by Marvel Comics under its Ultimate Marvel. It consists of a core five-issue eponymous miniseries written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by David Finch that was published from January 2009 to September 2009, and a number of tie-in books. The storyline deals with Magneto's attempts to destroy the world following the apparent deaths of his children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in The Ultimates 3.

The first issue of the core miniseries was the best-selling comic of January 2009, selling over 100,000 copies, though sales dropped with subsequent issues. Despite relatively strong sales, the miniseries received almost universally negative reviews upon its conclusion, as it holds a score of 4 out of 10 at the review aggregator website Comic Book Roundup. By contrast, the overall crossover storyline holds a score of 5.8 out of 10, whereas higher scores are held by the tie-in series, Ultimatum: Fantastic Four Requiem, Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem and Ultimatum: X-Men Requiem hold scores of 7, 7.7 and 6.3, respectively.

Batman comics
Other comics
Television and
video games

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.