If you've seen the 1991 film Cast a Deadly Spell, then the premise of Guy Adams' and Jimmy Broxton's new graphic novel Hope...For the Future might not seem as unique to those unfamiliar with the Martin Campbell-directed movie. They both take place in a post-World War 2 Los Angeles, and feature a hard-boiled, noirish plot in which magic is a reality.
However, Campbell's movie world had magic as an open thing, utilised by the entire populace. There were also zombies. In Adams' and Broxton's graphic novel – originally serialized in 2000AD – magic is a deep secret, revealed to the world through the end of the second World War but covered up by the government which used it in a manner akin to the atomic bomb. As one character remembers, “they said I dreamed it. That it was... I don't know, gas or somethin' making me see things”.
Hope is a dark, nasty bit of fiction which ably utilises Broxton's black and white artwork to revel in a world that draws equally from the pages of Hellblazer and vintage EC comics. The story, of a missing child star and the titular Mallory Hope's search for him, gets really rough and tumble in its depiction of the underworld (both supernatural and criminal) and the motion picture industry.
The artwork has a dense feel to it, and the use of a watercolour wash lends the story's rather more fantastical elements a nightmarish haze replete with sigils, standing in excellent contrast to the rather more straightforward artwork of the detective story. The static images stand in better stead than the action sequences, which veer away from Hope's pulp noir territory and look a little too Captain America at times, but that's a minor quibble for a book which so readily sucks in the reader.
And that story which Adams and Broxton tell is one heck of a page-turner. Throughout its pages, the pair craft a tale which leaves the reader breathless and just a little bit sad when it's all over. The twists and turns are just as fantastic as any Dashiell Hammett, but as nasty as Jim Thompson too, making this definitely one for the adults – in addition to some horrific bloodshed, it gets way kinky for a couple of pages.
The only downside to Hope...For the Future is that it's over far too quickly, leaving a desperate need for more once the last pages is finished. Thankfully, the sequel, entitled Hope...Under Pressure, is already in the works, meaning newly-addicted readers won't have to wait too long for the sequel.
HOPE... FOR THE FUTURE / AUTHOR: GUY ADAMS, JIMMY BROXTON / PUBLISHER: 2000AD / RELEASE DATE: 15TH NOVEMBER