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Sin City Volume 7: Hell and Back (3rd Edition) Paperback – November 30, 2010
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Can anything be darker than noir? Try Frank Miller's Sin City series. The tasty Hell and Back features Wallace, a brooding artist with a decided talent for hurting people, and Esther, a stunningly beautiful actress accidentally mixed up in a slavery ring that extends far and deep enough to transcend the word conspiracy. The tale twists, turns, and backtracks, teasing the reader with hints of terror to come--until the explosive climax. Miller's art is exactly right for his words; he uses more black than white, and color only when appropriate. The chapter dealing with Wallace's drug hallucinations is beautiful, heartbreaking, and terrifying in turn. Readers interested in the human dark side should find out what fans of Sin City already know: Frank Miller has seen it and wants to share. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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So, once again we have a hard-boiled guy looking to save a sexy dame, but despite the basic similarity "Hell and Back" comes across a bit differently from Miller's previous graphic novels in the series. It is not just that Wallace has that mop of hair hanging in this face, but that for the most part Miller has cleared the stage of a lot of the familiar characters. The only previous "Sin City" book you need to have read is the previous one, "Booze, Broads, & Bullets," so that when Delia shows up with her blue eyes and blue bodice you know this is not a good sign. Miller is sparse with introducing color into the black & white world of "Sin City," but Delia's blue is far and away the most effective use of color. But the orange of leopard skinned Mariah makes me think maybe the color pink does not occupy the other end of the spectrum here.
"Sin City" actually breaks into full color at one point, when Wallace gets injected with a hallucinogenic drug and starts freaking out. Comic book fans will spot the likes of Lone Wolf & Cub, Captain America, Hagar the Horrible, and the Cat in the Hat as Wallace totally trips out and tries to find the truth in the illusions. Actually, he does a pretty good job of it. Artistically Miller also plays with white a lot more in this one than he did in most of the previous books, although apparently just to be different rather than to any specific effect. Then again, Miller is over a thousand pages into his comic book noir and how many different ways can the guy draw play and white pages?
I know that with Book 7 we now have a complete set of "Sin City" graphic novels. You can tell because when you put the seven books side-by-side on the shelf the bindings form a picture of Nancy. But I would hate to think this is the last "Sin City" from Miller because it does not provide a big finish. Since Miller provided the definitive big finish with "The Dark Knight Returns" we have reason to hope for something similar with his own creation, but this is not it. Wallace is almost too competent of a hero compared to Marv and Dwight, especially with the support group he has in place, but Esther being the least interesting damsel in distress to date helps take this one down a notch as well. Consequently, "Hell and Back" is good but not great, and with Miller that always ends up being something of a disappointment.
The word was that this was going to be part of the "Sin City" movie, with Johnny Depp as Wallace (he was also supposed to be Robert Rodriguez's first choice for Jackie Boy), but who wants to see a "Sin City" movie with an intermission or cut in two parts like "Kill Bill"? I do not know if any or all of these rumors are true, but trying to think of Wallace as being Johnny Depp while I read "Hell and Back" did not quite work, more in terms of the body type pulling off all of Wallace's stunts than the longhaired look, because obviously Depp can pull that off.
A fun version of the movie that might have been.
If you like Sin City, you'll probably like this book. If you're not already a fan, I would recommend you get familiar with one of the more famous installments like those mentioned earlier.