Chance in Hell

Gilbert Hernandez is quite rightly revered for his work; his compilation of Palomar stories was Rolling Stone’s choice for Best Graphic Novel of 2003. Chance in Hell makes use of Hernandez’ trademark: deceptively simple drawings that still manage to reveal the inner workings of his characters. Empress, a small girl, is abandoned in a dump—a no-one’s land, where she endures horrible abuse before finally finding protectors. Rescued from the violence, she begins the second act of her life as the unwilling and protected ward of a mysterious man. In the third and final act, she discovers that the privileged life she’s found is not as safe from violence as she might have thought. The bursts of violence are realistic; the bodies of the prostitutes are not. Empress herself? An enigma.