Hexed is terrific. The writing is tight, thrilling, and focused; and the art and coloring are tremendous. The series follows the original Hexed title released in 2008, but you don’t need to have read it to have a great time.
However, there may be some disorientation for new readers. Nelson and his team throw the reader into the middle of a Luci adventure and don’t go out of their way to explain much, but any confusion doesn’t actually distract from the story at all. If anything, it works in its favor as it creates a tense atmosphere. I don’t know what the Harlot’s full deal is, but not being in the loop makes her weirder and more threatening. I don’t know what Madame Cymbeline is, but I know she talks by taking over others’ bodies and that she’s dangerous.
In all honesty, if the answers to those questions were established previously and you’re just not in the know, it isn’t a problem. Comic books are infamous for their continuity lockouts yet Hexed doesn’t suffer from that. No matter what, readers are still treated to an enjoyable, exciting story, and how well everything is established almost instantly is a testament to Nelson’s storytelling skills.
And what a story it is. This first issue is excellent and has everything a reader could want. Luci – short for Lucifer – is our heroine with a later-seasons Faith Lehane of Buffy vibe about her. She’s a true rogue with a heart of gold: she’ll crush art thieves with a giant worm hellbeast, but she’ll also go out of her way and lay down her own life to protect and save innocent bystanders. She’s charismatic, she’s fun, and thrilling, and I cannot wait to see where she goes next.
Aside from Luci, the most intriguing characters are the bad guys. The Harlot is creepy and unsettling, with a million questions about her: What is she up to? What does she want? Why does she need Luci to be better than her? The most immediate threat, however, comes from Yves and Cymbeline, the evil siblings with a rivalry and magic murder powers. Cymbeline’s introduction scene is some of the best writing I’ve seen in comics lately: it’s short, it’s threatening, and it shows you in two brutal pages just what kind of a woman Cymbeline is. Yves gets less time as he’s too focused on his prison break and escape, but he is a nasty, evil guy and who’s no better than his usurping sister.
Val, Luci’s surrogate mother figure, and her intern Raina round out the cast. Val is a interesting character with a lot going on, and her parent/child relationship with Luci feels genuine, particularly the scene where she begs Luci to be careful. Raina is charming as the girl who just now learns there are magic and demons in the world and that her boss keeps classic paintings with evil trapped in them like it’s no big deal.
In addition to the character writing, Nelson’s story is great. It’s well-paced, intriguing, has clever ideas – like the painting prison – all throughout. But if there’s anything that exceeds Nelson’s writing it is Mora’s illustrations and particularly Cassata’s color work. The art is vivid, fluid, and beautiful. The character designs, facial expressions, and body language from Mora are particularly good, as is his framing and composition. Though, Cassata’s colors really aren’t to be outdone. From the warped, oily coloring when Luci is in the painting, to the stark, effective color contrast when we see how Cymbeline would like her contractors taken care of, his work is a highlight of an already strong book.
It goes without saying at this point that Hexed’s new volume is off to a powerful start. Check this one out, and consider scoping out the previous volume on Comixology before the second issue hits stands. If it’s anything like this, you won’t regret it.