Hell and Back by Frank Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Out of all 7 books, this was probably my favorite. I'm glad that I saw the movie before reading these because I would've been so disappointed not to see this one (and Family Values, which is my 2nd favorite). The story is titled Hell and Back, but its subtitle is "A Love Story." And it is just that.
An artist and former soldier (Wallace) saves a woman (Esther) who's trying to commit suicide only to have her taken away from him in the same night after making a deep connection with her. And he's more than willing to go to hell and back to save her. Unlike so many other characters in this book, Wallace is a genuinely good guy. He sees things in a sense of right and wrong, and yeah, he does a whole lot of wrong to get Esther back, but he doesn't start as a gray character like so many of the other "heroes" in Sin City.
This is the only story that has a REAL hopeful ending, and if the movie had played more on the idea that Sin City did nothing but "spoil" and "kill" the people who live there, this would've been a fitting ending for it because it gives hope for, not just Esther and Wallace, but the other inhabitants who live there as well. They can find something worth living for in the city, and they can escape its clutches.
But I can see why it was omitted from a time saving POV and from a story POV. Wallace's hallucinations alone probably would've taken up the whole budget (and caused a helluva lot of lawsuits with all the recognized property used in his hallucinations from Captain America to Rambo to Hell Boy), and the movie seemed to want to play on that "hopelessness and revenge with very little daylight" theme.
But still... I would've loved to have seen this one on the screen. My heart was dreading the ending because I was sure Esther and Wallace were going to end up like so many other characters in the book and I didn't want them to. Wallace and his endless "ma'ams" and good manners through it all were too cute. Imagine my delight when they turned out fine. It was a good farewell to me. The lovers leaving the city just as the readers do.
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