Can’t wait for Sin City 2 to hit theaters? It’s a perfect time to revisit (or perhaps experience for the first time) the graphic novels that started it all. Dark Horse has reissued Frank Miller’s iconic take on pulp noir in a new edition, beginning with its first two entries, The Hard Goodbye and A Dame to Kill For.

Sin City takes place in a bizarro noir world of amped-up violence and hard-boiled toughs, where deadly prostitutes have taken over a lawless section of the city. It’s a Mickey Spillane universe filtered through the distinct vision of the man behind The Dark Knight Returns.

The Hard Goodbye opens with Marv, a scar-faced lug, waking next to a dead prostitute, the first person who was sweet to him. Given a purpose for the first time in his life, Marv sets out to find who framed him and why and to take revenge.

A Dame to Kill For is a twist on the femme fatale narrative. Dwight is a disgraced journalist, newly sober and trying to rebuild his life when the woman who left him for a richer man comes back into his life asking for help. The second volume further develops Miller’s self-contained world, exploring the gang of prostitutes in more depth, while crossing paths again with Marv in a very Pulp Fiction way before there was Pulp Fiction.

You know when you sit down with a Frank Miller book that he is going to push each story as far as it can go, wring all the possibilities from it. That is certainly the case with these seedy tales. While Miller’s super high-contrast black and white art can at times veer into indecipherable geometry, you certainly can’t fault its originality. And at its best, it is stunning.

Also included in Volume 1 are some of Miller’s covers and promotional art.

Grades: A/A-

Sin City: Vol. 1 & 2 is currently available.