Review – Hexed #1 (BOOM! Studios)

boom_hexed_001_a - CopyPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer(s): Michael Alan Nelson
Artist(s): Dan Mora
Release Date: 13th August 2014

It’s not every month that you get a first issue of a book that sets off the ‘yeah, this is pretty cool’ node of your brain. Given that we’re pretty much at the point in fiction where there’re no truly original stories left, it takes a little more effort to really sell your particular mash-up of what’s come before to everyone – be it with interesting takes on established archetypical characters, well-crafted dialogue, or just messing with people’s expectations of quite what you’re going to be doing.

As for as openers go, this had me sold within the first 10 pages, which pulls of the latter of the above mentioned hooks, featuring a great wee set piece that has you thinking one thing before slapping that down and sending the story off in a completely different direction.

The art from Mora is exceptional, like Tim Burton suddenly had the urge to draw a manga having just watched several J-horror flicks – clean lines, lithe characters, and beautiful backgrounds, all mixed in with an unsettling macabre streak that’s rather delightful. Kudos too go to Cassata for his colour work, switching elegantly between colour palettes as the scenes shift between the real and the fantastical – particularly brilliant is a moment involving a painting that sees him adopt a sketchy, watercolour-esque style that serves to emphasise the transition between worlds beautifully.

The writing and structuring is solid as well, featuring terrific dialogue that doesn’t feel forced given the ethereal nature of the proceedings, drawing us in to the story rather than making it awkward, revealing just enough to justify the slightly open-ended nature of the climax of this first issue. It also, as an intellectual point, passes the Bechdel test, establishing a badass female lead whose primary motivation doesn’t – at least for now – lead back to men as its root cause.

This is still very much a groundwork issue – establishing its magical realist world that on the one hand isn’t that original, but on the other is a satisfying blend of great concepts. And once that’s all laid out, it still manages to do something intriguing, messing with your expectations at every turn, and I for one’ll be picking up next month’s issue to find out where it goes.

Rating: 4/5

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The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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