A follow-up to Frank Miller's revered miniseries 300 has been discussed for years -- a sequel to the 300 film was even released in the interim, back in 2014 -- and now the comic book is officially on Dark Horse Comics' schedule, set to debut in April. Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander is a five-issue miniseries, set to pit the forces of Persian King Xerxes -- previously seen in 300 (and in history) -- against the Greeks and Alexander the Great.
Unlike DC Comics' recent Dark Knight III: The Master Race, Miller returns to the familiar position of both writing and drawing Xerxes, with Alex Sinclair on board as colorist. Like 300, it's steeped in world history, as depicted by Miller's distinct approach.
CBR spoke with Miller about Xerxes, how the series has evolved since he first discussed it publicly back in 2009, why Alexander the Great is the "emergent hero" of the story, returning to writing and drawing, his thoughts on the current comic book industry and the contemporary relevance of the Xerxes story.
CBR: Frank, you first spoke about a follow-up to 300 back in 2009, and I'm not sure how long you had been planning it before that. Now that Xerxes is coming out in 2018, is the story pretty much the same form when you envisioned it originally? Or has it evolved along the way?
Frank Miller: The history hasn't changed, but certainly my approach to it has evolved across time. It is a more expansive story than it originally was, because I've been shown how interconnected the story of Xerxes is. It began as a straight-out war story, and I think it involves much more about civilization; as well as all the warfare.
Looking back at the original 300, it stands as one of your most famous works to mainstream audiences in large part due to the success of the 2007 film. To you, as a creator, where do you see it in your body of work? How meaningful is it to you, 20 years later?
I first fell in love with the story when I was a little kid, seeing [1962 film The 300 Spartans] in the early '60s. I decided I would make a comic book of it when I was a professional at making comic books. Then I eventually did, and of course it went on to become Zack Snyder's movie, and they did a terrific job with it. I always thought, when I finished 300, that it was the entry point to more stories. I think history's a wonderful subject for comic books. Xerxes is a more expansive book that covers a wider range of history.
You've commented on the past about the Persian wars, and how much potential it holds for storytelling. With presumably dozens of stories you could tell, how did you arrive at the story being told in the Xerxes series?
There are pivotal figures that alter the course of history. Xerxes is one. He reformatted the world, and his empire was, at the time, unimaginably vast. It really looked like the House of Darius was to rule the world for all time. Then the Macedonians and Alexander came along and changed the rule.
This is a time where, in a relatively small region, the course of world events were determined over and over again; since Asia was a separate world, for all intents and purposes. The reign of Xerxes surpassed that of his own father, and it was an extraordinary event.