Hexed #1

Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Emma Rios
32 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—more often than not, it’s not a matter of what story you’re telling, but rather how you’re telling it. There are some basic story ideas that we’ve seen over and over again, like a person who uses magic to steal. What’s important, though, is what you bring to that idea to make it feel different. Basic ideas are a dime a dozen. In the case of Hexed, though, it’s the world and the characters that make this book stand out from the rest.

Luci Jenifer Inacio Das Neves, or Lucifer for short, is a thief. Need something retrieved that requires more than just a set of lock picks? Look no further than her. She’ll be through the magical wards, curses, and anything else in the blink of an eye. The only problem she has right now is that an old boss—one that she bolted from—has just come back and is looking for repayment for the job she never completed. And just call it a hunch, but Lucifer’s pretty sure that even if she is able to financially repay him, he’ll still be looking for some sort of additional cost. Hey, she never said her job was easy.

Michael Alan Nelson’s world of Hexed is where celestial body parts can be stolen, spell-trapped safes can be absorbed by stuffed bunnies, and gateways to other dimensions are opened up inside of corpses. It’s an almost-immediately enchanting sort of setting (no pun intended), where it’s so similar to our own world, and yet just different enough to keep you guessing. I like that he doesn’t lay everything out at once—there’s no big lump of expository knowledge heaped upon the reader—but if you pay attention to what’s going on, you’re easily able to figure out just what is happening and how everything fits together. It helps that Lucifer herself is an engaging protagonist; she’s neither little miss sunshine nor a doom and gloom kind of person, just someone who calls it as she sees it and makes her way forward the best she can. I like that even at her most matter-of-fact moments, she can still show a sense of wonder and not be entirely jaded by everything that happens.

At the same time, there’s a lot to be curious about in terms of plot. Nelson clearly has an entire history plotted out for Lucifer as well as her world, and the hints we get are tantalizing. I genuinely want to see more of the celestial hierarchy of Hexed, more of the different types of spells and counter-spells, more of everything. It’s a compliment when I say that in some ways Hexed feels like the setting for the ultimate role-playing game, where there’s always more interesting and cool things just around the corner waiting to be discovered by you.

Emma Rios’s art is pretty pleasing to the eye; she draws her characters with a sort of grace and ease about them that makes them feel real. There’s a panel about halfway through Hexed #1 where Lucifer is yawning and stretching while being questioned by her client, and it just feels so natural that you can’t help but believe that you’re seeing a real person. Rios also has to tackle some big, larger-than-life things in Hexed #1, and on the whole I’d say she succeeds. I love the huge monstrous spell trap on the vault leaping out at the stuffed bunny that Lucifer sets in its path, for instance; it looks like fire and heat erupting outwards, something that readers can easily then connect to it being a spell effect instead of something more mundane. Sometimes some of the smaller details can get lost in the shuffle—it wasn’t until the third time I looked at that panel that I realized that Lucifer is there, pulling the door open—but that’s usually the exception rather than the rule.

Hexed #1 is a strong debut for this mini-series; it’s got an engaging setting and world, and it’s easy to see the lure to pick up the second issue. A lot of Boom! Studios’s books seem aimed squarely at attracting other media attention, and I can see Hexed achieving that easily. I know I’d want to see a Hexed movie if it was as fun as this first issue. More importantly, though, I want to read the rest of Hexed right away, and that is a very good sign. Well done, all involved.

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