cover image HELL AND BACK: A Sin City Love Story

HELL AND BACK: A Sin City Love Story

Frank Miller, . . Dark Horse, $25 (312pp) ISBN 978-1-56971-481-2

Wallace is a complicated guy. He's a shaggy, unshaven artist with a cool car and artistic integrity that makes it difficult for him to make a living as a commercial artist. He's also an ex-marine with a Congressional Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam. When he saves the mysterious, beautiful Esther from committing suicide, it looks like the stage is set for a great romance. But there are mysterious forces with warped plans for Esther. This is a typical Frank Miller story, crammed with operatic drama, passion and stark violence and clearly influenced by classic crime fiction masters like Raymond Chandler. And while the cars and architecture are straight out of the '50s, Wallace's slacker wardrobe (Converse high-tops, long hair, trench coat) and high-powered weaponry all have a distinctly contemporary flavor. Those looking for sensitive investigations of love and character won't find them here: Miller's stories are over-the-top, high-tension pulp fiction, racheted up to farcical levels of frenzied violence and action. His drawings are spectacularly graphic and Varley's strategically placed color, amid Miller's rich black-and-white drawings, accents the book's stylish atmosphere of dread. All told, this is an important addition to the ultra-hard-boiled crime fiction genre. (June)