By Svetlana Fedotov
When DC comics invented Vertigo over twenty years ago, there was a certain elemental magic to it that was never quite seen again; a type of connection between reader and creator that was lined with blood, the occult, and the dark magic of the earth itself. Whilst, for the most part, DC/Vertigo has been creeping away from that British occult feel (especially with Hellblazer becoming Constantine – it’s just not the same!), the need for that type of adult, dark fantasy work has never gone away. Enter Hexed, BOOM! Studios’ newest contribution to the wicked world of magical ruins and dirty deals. Following the story of a young witch thief as she digs herself in and out of trouble, it’s a welcome work for those who miss that old vintage terror.
The comic start quite innocently, with a daring theft in an art museum in the middle of the night. Our heroine, Ms. Lucifer Jennifer Inacio Das Neves, glides silently into the empty building, her target not a painting but the frame around it, when she suddenly sees she’s not alone. A group of hired men have arrived before her to steal the painting the frame was holding, and though Lucifer attempts to offer them the work for the frame, a scuffle ensues anyway, ending with a trapped security guard inside the very painting itself. She quickly takes the whole thing with her to her employer, Val Brisendine, with a poorly-executed plan to remove him from the art piece. Of course, best laid plans and all that, because not only does she make things worse, but also releases a dark spirit that has lain within its confines. Suddenly faced with a way bigger problem than she intended, she is forced to rely on her wits and trickery to set everything right.
As stated, Hexed is a great read for those who loved that great Vertigo feeling of Hellblazer and Books of Magic. I know it’s a little early to compare with these two titles, especially considering it’s only the first issue, but it immediately dives into the world of myth and magic without dumbing it down or over-explaining things. It gives credit to the reader that they can follow the rabbit down the hole without having their hands held, something that’s not seen regularly now. Also, because of that kind of faith in the reader, there’s a fantastic sense of immersion that’s rarely seen outside of kids’ works. It lets you have an imagination, lets you believe that that’s the world that exists right outside your front door. I know, I know, it’s only the first issue, I should probably slow my roll, but I’m seriously digging it.
The author, Michael Alan Nelson, who has primarily done work for BOOM! and DC, has managed to create a smooth story with no wasted pages. The characters have solid interactions and the plot pulls no punches when it comes to laying down the blood when needed. Hell, there are even a couple of laughs, if you like some quips mixed with the horror. The artist Dan Mora, while less well known than this writing counterpart, still puts his all into Hexed. His pen work is an awesome mix of indie aesthetics and comic-pop kitsch, which creates a great flow for those high-octane shots that get the fans off.
Hexed hits stores on August 25th. Be there or be square.