Gilbert Hernandez’s latest offering is an original graphic novel from Fantagraphics, that, like Speak of the Devil, is an adaptation of one of Fritz’s (a character from Love & Rockets) films. The story follows Empress, who was abandoned in the city dump as a baby and raised by its strange inhabitants, surrounded by rape and violence and death. One day, she is whisked away from this horrible world to the city, where she is brought up by a struggling editor of poetry who has problems of his own. Despite this rescue, Empress is still drawn to violence and eventually a prostitution ring, the rest of her life playing out in a tragic way.
As always, Gilbert’s artwork is pretty much second-to-none. And while I expected this to be the sort of Grindhouse book that Speak of the Devil is shaping up to be, this is a genuinely good story with an interesting character caught up in horrible situations. It does go over-the-top from time to time, but in the end, this is a Gilbert Hernandez book and this is a story akin to the type one would see gracing the pages of Love & Rockets. B+