Against Hope is a 2020 one-shot graphic novel published by Dark Horse Comics.
It’s by Victor Santos , a Spanish artist/writer who also frequently works on French or US titles. One of his GNs, Polar, was adapted as a live-action movie by Netflix.
Against Hope is ultraviolent, all-action neo-noir. The plot and characterisation are paper-thin – the work puts all its weight into the kinetic, moody art.
I understood that reference
From a US comics standpoint this is bound to be reminiscent of Frank Miller’s work. Since Miller’s comics using noir storytelling conventions and cinematic “photography” were so influential.
Plus significant elements from 1970s woman’s revenge blaxploitationCheap, oft-seedy thriller movies made by and for African-Americans. The genre had its heydays during the 1970s with Shaft and similar flicks. flicks, such as Foxy Brown. Since, well, it was that influential.
The protagonist, Hope Walker, can easily be reused in stories in this or other genres.
This profile technically has S P O I L E R S. But the plot is so minimal…
- Real Name: Hope Walker.
- Known Relatives: Parents (names unrevealed, deceased). An epilogue shows a daughter, name unrevealed.
- Group Affiliation: Partner of Meggan Cross.
- Base of Operations: USA.
- Height: 5’5″ (1.65 m). Weight: 125 lbs. (56 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown/red. Hair: Black.
Powers & Abilities
Hope is a powerful athlete, particularly when it comes to running. She has exceptional endurance, agility, reflexes and pain tolerance.
Overall, she performs at a cinematicThe level of power and (un)realism found in a spectacular action movie. level. Ms. Walker can reliably defeat four or five armed opponents by herself. Even if she’s not well armed, as Hope excels at grabbing her foes’ weapons and immediately using them.
However, she’s badly allergic to bee stings.
She later became a reputed bounty huntress, working as a duo with one Meggan Cross.
Ms. Cross is a skilled thief, B&EBreaking into a closed property, like burglars do. artist and hacker. We can assume that she also became a skilled bounty huntress.
As a bounty hunter, Hope was originally armed with a less-than-recent revolver. It’s drawn with generic lines, but my suggestion would be an older .357 S&W M66 K-frame with the 3″ barrel.
Obviously, she doesn’t run around shooting people. Her preferred method of ending a fight is a size 9 Chuck Taylor All-Star Classic to the face.
Back then, she drove a Plymouth Road Runner . The book states it was a 1964 model, which seems in error. It likely was a 1968 model.
Walker & Cross, Bounty Hunters operate from an unidentifiable lorry. Presumably to have enough room for bunks, supplies, a microwave oven, a generator, Meggan’s tools and computers, etc..
Hope is seen using :
- A semi-auto pistol with a greatly extended magazine, and a threaded barrel to affix a suppressor. Not really identifiable from the art, but from the Glock-ish lines imma assume something like a .40 S&W Sigma with the 25-round mag. In most situations, she presumably uses the standard 14-round mag instead.
- A robust leather moto jacket with a back protector insert.
- An in-ear comm link, with the main unit taped to her left biceps under her jacket.
- Monocular night vision goggles. In the book they look a bit sci-fi-ish, but in-universe it presumably was a surplus AN/PVS-7. Though it might be a Russian model I don’t recognise.
- A pair of fast-draw, ankh-shaped boot daggers. These seemed damn tough – S30V steel or the like.
In most violent encounters, she won’t bring this. She’ll just use unarmed combat, and melee weaponry taken from her opponents.
The gun is for when she’s facing serious firepower. Though, it can also be useful as a compliance device to arrest people she doesn’t wish to beat up.
First thing that comes to mind. Because it’s an impressive song.
Hope Walker was born circa 1971. She lived in an unspecified rural area of the US.
As a child and teenager, Hope was into athleticism and the martial arts. Her father had given her basic lessons in judo early on, and it seems that she went on to study other forms at local schools.
She also appears to have been a state-level track running teenage champ. And we see her practising on still rings.
I hate those guys
However, the areas had been dominated by the Herzfeld clan for generations.
From the 1930s onward, they were Nazis. One imagines that they belonged to the various nativist parties before that. Perhaps all the way back to the Know Nothings .
(One gets the impression that the Walkers were among the few Black families in the area. If the story takes place in the South, it is possible that most left during the Great Northward Migration to get out of the Herzfelds’ turf.)
In 1982, Hope met Jai Roberts – a boy of about her age. His family had just moved into town. As a Black child, Jai was soon targeted by racist classmates.
Hope rushed in, and beat up the bullies. The two kids became close friends – and, in 1985, lovers.
They also bonded over athletics. Though Jai was a card-carrying, bespectacled, comic-books-reading geek, he also was an excellent runner. In 1986, he became the state champion.
After Jai won his title, the two enthusiastic teenagers went looking for the bus home. But they were confronted by Billy Herzfeld – the clan’s youngest son.
Herzfeld was incensed that a Black kid had beaten the local, White 14-and-under runners. Billy had stolen his big brother Herman’s snub-nosed revolver, and murdered Jai.
Herman heard the shot and came in. He hid Jai’s corpse in the woods, and captured Hope to dispose of her.
His plan was to release her shoeless on their land. Then have the clan hunt her down – which had been a Herzfeld tradition in decades past.
Le cercle rouge
However, young Hope discovered that she was at least as good a fighter as she was an athlete.
When a dobermann caught up with her, she managed to brain then impale it, using nearby rocks and branches. Which meant she now could use its spiked collar as makeshift brass knuckles.
From there she managed to stalk and ambush the undisciplined, overconfident hunters one by one. She took their weapons as she worked her way up.
But this wasn’t sufficient to take on Herman, who had actual training. He curbstombed her, and hacked at her face with the cleaver she had stolen from one hunter.
But at the last second, Walker managed to grab his boot knife, and from there his submachinegun.
Billy and Herman were the only two survivors among those Herzfelds who were present that night. And Herman was grievously crippled and disfigured.
Fire under the ashes
Since she had police connections, Hope could afford to call them in.
But even with her dad being an officer, the detective made it clear that the death of the Herzfelds could easily have terrible consequences for the Walkers.
The aftermath of that night is unrevealed. Perhaps the Walkers had to move to another state, to avoid the influence of those Herzfelds who weren’t present that night.
The bounties and the bees
By that point, Hope became a bounty hunter during the early 1990s. It was something of a golden age for that profession in the region.
(At this point, the story visually references, as other local bounty hunters :
In 1994, she managed to track down wanted thief Meggan Cross. However, Hope was stung by a bee. Which is how she learned that she was badly allergic to that.
Another bounty hunter came in, and locked the unconscious Walker within nearby lavatories. He likely sought to deniably rid himself of a successful rival.
Ms. Cross doubled back, stole a first aid kit, and injected Ms. Walker with epinephrine. This likely saved Hope’s life
(Here’s a well-regarded TikTok video showing how to inject a person in allergic shock with an epipen . Though not all injectors are used exactly that way. On a generic, non-brand one you remove both caps, apply the orange end to the thigh, and count to 10.)
From there, Walker :
- Tracked down the rival bounty hunter, and beat him up.
- Arrested Cross.
- Convinced the judge to lighten Cross’ sentence for her Good Samaritan intervention.
When Cross left prison, Walker was waiting for her. She offered to partner up as bounty hunters, and Meggan agreed.
Mrs. Walker died of cancer during the late 1980s. So did Mr. Walker in early 1996.
(Black patients are significantly more likely to die if they get cancer. This pattern repeats through the healthcare system for most pathologies. They are also among the groups most likely to have grown up in polluted, carcinogenic environments.)
As he died, Mr. Walker told his daughter that he realised that she had been holding back for his sake. And that he knew that his death meant that she would be free to embrace her rage.
Though he couldn’t approve of this as a Christian man, he knew that she would otherwise remain bound by her trauma. And that she’d be haunted by Jai’s ghost until Billy Herzfeld was dead.
A question of time
By September of 1997, Cross and Walker had much better equipment than when Hope arrested Meggan – in May of 1994.
Part of it may be the inheritance from Mr. Walker. But while police officers in the US tend to have above-median wages, their median pay is markedly lower in the Deep South – where the story seems to take place.
Plus, the family had to face US healthcare costs for two terminal cancers.
This suggests that Meggan and Hope earned a series of major bounties, reinvesting the moolah in their firm. And this, in turn, suggests that Cross spent little time in prison. Perhaps as little as one year, so the pair had time to make those arrests.
One guess would be that the prosecution was unable to prove much at Meggan’s trial. And that she had never been convicted before.
In September of 1997, Cross and Walker were back on Herzfeld turf. The clan had Anglicised their family name to Heartfield, to help with Billy’s nascent political career.
Hope raided Nazi bars, capturing and interrogating patrons. She eventually determined where to intercept Billy and Herman – plus their younger sister Erika, who was the mastermind behind Billy’s electoral strategy.
The bounty huntresses then prepared their assault. Meggan would remain in the truck, to remotely shut down the power in the building just as Hope came in.
Walker having night vision equipment and a suppressed handgun, this could give her enough of an edge to take the security out. If everything went well.
Hope’s most consistent bit of clothing is a large upside-down Christian cross earring. This used to be Jai’s pendant.
The left half of her face bears large, numerous scars from cleaver blows. Her left eye more or less recovered, but it remains quite visibly bloodshot and damaged. The iris is reddish with a strange texture – it might be an implant that she received to save her eye.
She therefore wears her straightened hair to cover that half of her face. This efficiently hides the damage.
Hope occasionally smokes cigarettes.
Meg has short blonde hair, and striking blue eyes.
She tends to dress in working class clothing – cheaper tracksuits, tube tops, sweatpants, sneakers, etc..
Hope comes across as a coolly collected, fearless, businesslike operative. She has nerves of steel, significant experience for her age, and knows what she’s capable of.
She’s a badass action movie heroine, you know ?
Ms. Walker was severely traumatised by Jai’s death, and being hunted nearly to death. She held back as long as her dad was alive, since he couldn’t approve of a killer vigilante. But they both knew blood vengeance was the only way for Hope to free herself.
That’s the genre.
She occasionally does action movie tough guy one-liners, but it’s mostly for intimidation.
Ms. Cross will make you jump, jump
Meggan seems fairly benign, even caring. She also appears to have a code of solidarity among women – at least in the macho macho underworld scene she and Hope operate in.
Like Jai, she’s a geek. We see her reading a battered copy of Stormbringer.
There’s a vague implication that she has a crush on Hope. Emphasis on “vague” – it’s prolly just that she cares a lot about her best friend.
In an epilogue, Hope’s young daughter presented Meggan as part of her family, but this too is open to interpretation. Make up whatever you prefer, eh ?
“Mercy is for the living. You’ve been dead since the moment you pulled that trigger. Since the moment you decided to follow us after we left the gym. Since the moment you laid eyes on him.”
“It’s not ‘revenge’. I don’t like the irrational connotations of the word. I know what I’m doing.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
There’s plenty of space in the DCU for a pair of cinematic bounty hunters. The problem is that the street-level, gritty DCU tales tend to fall out of the spotlight after a few years if they’re not firmly tethered to the Batman.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 06||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 05|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 018||HP: 035|
Accuracy (Take-Away Manoeuvres): 07, Acrobatics: 05, Charisma (Interrogation): 05, Martial artist*: 06, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry*: 06
Expertise (Manhunting), Schtick (Disarmer (Unarmed)).
Creepy Appearance, Fatal Vulnerability (Bee stings), MIH of Nazis.
- .40 Sigma [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 25, R#03] w/screw-on suppressor [BODY 01, Thief (Stealth): 03 (Only to muffle the shot)].
- Moto jacket w/back protector [BODY 02, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 03, Enhance (Cold RV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Structural RV): 02 (cap is 07), Limitations: Partial Coverage (Jacket), Damage Capacity has No Recovery unless suitable repair facilities and supplies are available].
- Boot daggers (x2) [BODY 06, Enhance (EV): 01 (Cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing, Slashing].
- NV Goggles [BODY 01, Ultra-vision: 03, R#02].
- Comms [BODY 01, Radio communications: 04, R#02].
It’s a cruel cruel world, to face on your own
Meggan Cross’ abilities aren’t quite seen, except for Scientist (Computers): 05 and several Thief Subskills (including Security Systems and Locks & Safes) at 05.
I originally went with an Accuracy score for Take-Away Manoeuvres, since I don’t like reusing Schticks too many times.
The issue is that the Take-Away Manoeuvres penalties are steep, which means that the Accuracy Skill compensating for it ends up with a lot of APs. Which *looks* odd.
So I applied the time-honoured “¿Por qué no los dos?” heuristic.
One scene is ambiguous. A blade is stopped by her comm unit, wrecking it but saving her arm. However, the sound effect and its exact placement give the impression that the blade hit something rigid and plasticky on her back. Like a moto back protector.
So I applied the time-honoured “¿Por qué no los dos?” heuristic.
Linked the Martial Artist and Weaponry Skills to convey the sense that she seems to be a natural at this stuff.
Source of Character: Against Hope (2020 GN).
Helper(s): Darci ; Adam Fuqua ; Kevin Berger ; A Haunting Thirst For Bloody Revenge.
Writeup completed on the 30th of November, 2021.