A Place of Dark Memories
Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes casts his eye over Rebellion’s Hope Under Fire, out now…
Hope Under Fire
Writer: Guy Adams
Artist: Jimmy Broxton
Mallory Hope, haunted private investigator in an alternate 1940s where America won World War II with magic, returns in this collection of Hope Under Fire, his most recent story arc from 2000AD. Last seen uncovering the occult side of the movie business and its exploitation of children in Los Angeles, Hope is now in New York, where a run-in with a deeply unpleasant old army buddy uncovers a bunch of bad memories about both Hope’s own wartime experiences and the invisible demonic spirit that now dogs his footsteps.
Most of the things that worked in the first Mallory Hope story, Hope for The Future, work again here. Noir detectives in a ghost-ridden post-WWII America is a rich field for guilt and bad memories and threats hidden in the shadows, all the more so when those shadows contain doorways to hells of one kind or another. Guy Adams’s story focuses more directly on Hope’s own past this time around though, a narrower focus on one particular corner of this world rather than the broader view of a whole culture running on occult power lines that occupied the last arc. This makes Hope himself seem more self-absorbed and a bit less worldly-wise; but that’s a good noir failing for a character as well.
Jimmy Broxton’s art still works too, all shadowy grey washes and diffuse lighting effects. The art style hasn’t changed to reflect a move from West Coast to East, and Broxton transplants the same tones and atmosphere from one setting to the other, which is good for consistency but maybe a missed opportunity. When the killing fields of the war burst into Hope’s mind, usually with the character staring straight out of the page at the reader, the digital layering melds the illusion and the reality in some rich detailed dreamscapes. The story involves an addictive hallucinatory drug too, with more opportunities for the same kind of thing. The artist does rely on photographic references for both faces and places to a greater extent than last time though, with mixed results. Having Hope’s enemy wear the face of John Wayne in repeated poses is a visual jolt and a knowing dig at that actor’s famously un-military career, but it doesn’t really lead anywhere for the story itself; and neither does Cary Grant being one of New York’s crime bosses. Real-life film stars already cropped up in the background of Hope for The Future going about their showbiz business, so conjuring up celebrities again here for unrelated purposes mixes up the messages a bit. But Hope is still one of the more atmospheric stories currently on 2000AD‘s active list.