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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

SIN CITY


HELL AND BACK by FRANK MILLER


For those who had been indulging in their most deadliest sins in the pages of Frank Miller's city... They might find this book a little out of rhythm from the old good storyline of the other important leading characters such as Marv, Dwight McCarthy, Nancy Callahan, Gail, Miho, John Hartigan, Roark Junior...... Most people would consider this as one of the weakest yarn in the series but i strongly disagree...mostly because it is quite hard to name the weakest for all of them have different things to offer....but it is safe to say that this is definitely the black sheep of the family..but just because its different doesn't make it automatically the weakest...

In this book we follow one of the most intriguing protagonist just like the rest Wallace is just as resourceful but takes a much more patient and methodical approach to his dealings. Though passion drives him, of all four Sin City leads he is the least consumed by it. His internal narration is far less ironic and gung-ho and much more subdued and contemplative, infusing the story with a strong “lone wolf” tone. He is the least ruthless of the four and yet the most morally questionable.

Here is a full profile on Wallace....copied from wikipedia:


In his late 30s or early 40s, Wallace appears to be around 5 foot 10 inches, to 6 foot tall. He has a lean, muscular build, long black hair, and stubble. His normal attire consists of a black T-shirt, black jeans, Converse All-Star shoes, and an ankle-length trench coat. Wallace dresses in such shabby clothing that he is sometimes mistaken for a bum. His long hair and stubble earn him frequent taunts from the police. He drives a Buick LeSabre convertible.
Wallace is a skilled artist. For a citizen of Basin City he is shockingly prudish, as when he chose to tear up a nude portrait he created rather than allow it to be chosen over a more tasteful painting. He was caught by surprise when the assassin Delia (a.k.a. Blue Eyes) propositioned him. He is very respectful toward the opposite sex referring to women as "Ma'am" regardless of age or status. He does not, however, share Marv's aversion to hurting women, as shown by his lethal actions toward female opponents. He notices the smell of cigarette smoke quite easily.
It is implied that his childhood was spent growing up in New England. Little is known about Wallace's past in the military, but he keeps scars from this part of his life. Wallace is most of the time self-confident and cool-headed, but remains so even in mortal peril, implying he is simply apathic. Though he is honest, warm-hearted, selfless and pacifistic, Wallace can be stirred to violent action when it is required, such as for revenge. He never shows exterior signs of panic and doesn't seem to fear anything. Wallace (understandably) dislikes the police, comparing them to the same people that worked for Stalin (the KGB).
Whenever under intense stress, he meditates. This helps him clear his mind and recall things that might have escaped him in the heat of the moment..

Special abilities

Wallace once worked as a short-order cook for a while. He is mostly a talented painter (his works are

never shown but every character who sees them is impressed) and wishes to make a living through it.
Wallace is one of the most skilled characters in martial arts, being able to take Manute down single-handedly and with relative ease. He tries to be patient with his opponents, giving fair warning to back off, but is always driven to violence, and proves to be far more dangerous than he looks. He is also a skilled gunman, often using Beretta 92F pistols. When acting in stealth, he uses a machete. As said before, Wallace is as calm as an executioner. Thanks to this and meditation, he keeps his senses to master the situations. He is also very observant, noticing even cigarette smoke.
During most of his adventure, Wallace fights his enemies (and even police) all by himself. His only notable allies are two of his former comrades, 'Captain' and his life partner Jerry..
HELL AND BACK STORYLINE
The story starts when Wallace, with his habitual disgust for sexuality, realizes his delicate nature is offended by the Men's magazine he worked for as an artist. He quits his job with nowhere to go. He meets a suicidal woman, whom he rescues via CPR. He brings the woman to his land lady, a retired nurse. He retires to his apartment when the girl walked in to thank him for saving her life and Wallace offeres her a lift home. She put on some of his clothes and she suggested buying him a drink in a nearby bar.
There Wallace finds out that her name is Esther and that she is a not-so-successful actress. They discuss his past in the military and her life, and then they kiss.
Wallace falls unconscious, and when he opens his eyes to see that Esther is gone. A cop, on is hitting him and yelling in his face. Wallace doesn't resist the arrest. He tries to stay focused and remember what had happened. He remembers that Esther was kidnapped. She resisted but this is all he can remember for the time. He is charged(but not told his crime) and put in a cell. After they lock him in, Wallace meditates to remember what happened earlier.

He realizes that someone shot him, but not with a bullet, it was something that made him paralyzed. He was able to hear and see but unable to move. Two men in doctors’ uniforms kidnapped Esther and he couldn’t move a muscle.

In the morning the policemen let him out and he drops by his apartment to take a bath and put on some clean clothes. Then he makes a plan how to find where Esther is. First he tries to find some witnesses. That fails so he goes to the police to file a missing persons report, but he doesn't know that much about her, neither her last name or her address, so he decides that the best thing to do is to draw a picture of her. The Lieutenant promises to do whatever he can and he tells Wallace that he better stay out of the way, but Wallace has already decided to go against the law if he has to.

On his way home, Wallace is stopped by the same cops who put him in jail. He attacks the officers and robs them. He goes to Mrs. Mendoza to pay his rent and let her know that he will be out of town for a while. Mrs. Mendoza tells Wallace that she took Esther's business card, which has Esther’s real name, phone number and address on it. This information was a good thing for Wallace who is not much of a detective, and unable to think as well as he can fight. He heads to Esther’s apartment where he finds Delia sleeping. She claims that she is Esther’s roommate and makes a pass at him. Just then, Manute comes in and tries to kill him. They fight and Manute loses. Delia gets turned on, takes her clothes off and sits near the window. Wallace asks her to get away from the window. A sniper fires a shot at them. Wallace orders Delia to stay low, to get dressed and put on running shoes, Wallace shoots the sniper and kills him. When they leave the building, a Mercedes chases after them. Wallace shoots at the car’s tires and the car flips upside down. Strangely, Wallace says he feels bad for the car.
Since his car is bullet-riddled and easily identified by the enemy, he decides that he needs to get another one. So he goes to find his former captain. He also borrows a pair of handcuffs. Delia is exhausted so they rent a room in a hotel. Wallace again orders her around, telling her to take off her clothes, lie in bed and close her eyes. She does as she's told and Wallace handcuffs her to the bed. He just leaves her there and starts looking into her things. He tells her that he knew all along that she was not Esther’s roommate but stupidly forgetting his own advice, he gets too close to the window and someone shoots him.

Wallace returns to consciousness being carried by the simpleton Gordo. Delia is giving the orders. There is another girl, Maxine, who drugs him. They put him in a car, with the corpse of a young girl in the trunk, they give him one more dose of a tranquilizer cocktail and Wallace begins to hallucinate. He manages to get out of the car before it explodes and has to face the policemen that he previously robbed. This is where his former Captain comes to rescue him. He tells him that the enemies have established a perimeter of snipers and that was the reason why it took him so long to reach Wallace. He also tells him that he left one of the snipers alive enough to point them in the right direction. After they learn that Delia, Maxine and Gordo are driving a Humvee and heading to an old factory complex, they both decide to go after them. They stop for gas so Wallace and Captain can size up the moment and attack. Wallace kills Gordo with a head shot but Captain has already been hit. Wallace points his gun on Maxine, and orders her to fix his mind, she does and after a brief blackout he comes to find that either by his own hand or not, the gun hand gone off and Maxine was killed. He then walks over to Delia, who he also instinctively shot while recovering from the hallucinogen and, at her request, shoots her in the head to end her suffering. By the time he reached Captain, he was dead. Wallace took his body to Jerry, Captain’s boyfriend. They burn Captain’s body and Jerry promises to take care of Wallace.








Wallace goes to the old factory complex where he finds out that this is where a black market operation which traffics babies, women and live organs is taking place. He snoops around and sees the nursery with the babies, the cages with the women and the morgue with the corpses, who have had their organs surgically removed. He also finds a room where porn movies are filmed. He goes to Lieutenant Liebowitz' house to tell him what he has stumbled upon, and finds out that the Lieutenant knew all along. While they are talking all of this out, the phone rings. It's for Wallace, The enemy offers a deal. Esther’s life in exchange for them keeping the black market operation running. Wallace accepts, The trade off is set at an old farm(The Roark Family Farm from the other stories). They tell him that he will find her in the barn. Wallace opens the door and finds Esther in there naked. He put his coat on her and they walk out. But It's a trap and there is a helicopter flying overhead which begins to shoot at them. Wallace has Jerry covering his back, and when the helicopter turns to Wallace and Esther, Jerry shoots it down with a bazooka.
Wallace and Jerry take Esther to the hospital. The nurse tells Wallace that Esther will be ok in a few days and that the person who did this to her was a professional. Wallace asks Jerry if he could count on him to rescue all those people in the cages and the babies, Jerry accepts. Then, to their surprise, dozens of wounded people are found and brought into the hospital after a massive police operation. Wallace realizes that this has to do with Liebowitz. After a few days, he takes Esther and moves out and far away from Sin City.


Review
If you buy any Sin City story for the art and the art alone, that’s perfectly okay. Miller’s art isn’t just married seamlessly with his narrative; they’re on their tenth honeymoon and going strong. The panel-for-panel adaptation to cinema should be enough evidence of their inseparability. Hell and Back demonstrates a strange evolution of Miller’s style. He’s moved beyond the striking detail of rain and facial creases that littered the first volume. His characters have become rougher expressionist shadows, more defined by their body language than the number of hairs on their heads or scars on their backs. Some of the most striking images of Wallace are the ones in which the only notable details are his hair, hands and sneakers. The women become even more delectable for what they’re wearing than for what they’re not.

But there’s such a complexity of artistic composure and flow of the panels and pages that goes far beyond simple figure rendering. Though Miller doesn’t render the way he used to, he’s at the top of his game when it comes to chronicling a story through images. Every small hand gesture becomes an event unto itself, and every foreground beer bottle and background guard rail add volumes of depth to the atmosphere. Again, though the art isn’t nearly as pretty as in The Hard Goodbye, I found much more to gaze at and examine to make Hell and Back a far longer reader than its pages would indicate at face value.

Aside from the new protagonist and approach, there are two parts to the story that seem poised to put off readers. Toward the end of the book comes a very trippy chapter, both figuratively and literally in the context of the story, and it’s entirely in color. Miller’s clearly having a lot of fun with the images he includes, and the images that appear run parallel to the story’s events, but it’s nevertheless an entirely offbeat chapter that doesn’t quite fit. Then there’s the rushed conclusion that has to rely on an interlude to set up the final conflict and unfolding events so they even attempt to make any sense. It’s jarring and cuts into the momentum of the story, and it’s especially unusual for the conclusion of a Sin City yarn. One could say it’s an ending as unconventional as the rest of the tale, but I see it as a ball being dropped.



There’s absolutely no reason not to own Hell and Back, especially for those who enjoy the work of Frank Miller, but don’t expect utter satisfaction. The strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, but the weaknesses can’t be excused.















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