Oh man… this series is too fucking good. Hexed #8 changed the entire landscape of the series. Okay “changed” isn’t the right word… obliterated is. I mean everything you knew about the book changed by the time you closed the issue. It was remarkable and awe inspiring because for a creator to do that… they have to have guts of steel. Because it’s incredibly risky. You risk alienating your audience or worst yet… you follow it with a story that isn’t nearly as good.
Let me tell you though. As good as Hexed #8 is… Hexed #9 is just as good. They’re different for sure, but the fact that I clung to every page just as much as I did with the previous issue is the truest test of how good this series and particular issue are.
And here’s the thing that drives me nuts… a lot of you aren’t reading it.
You’re missing out completely on the fact that two supporting characters have now become the driving force of the series as the Intern and Bob go about continuing Val’s mission and what’s even better… the Harlot is staying with them or at least the woman formerly known as the Harlot whose real name turns out to be Fastrada. And the way she was dressed! It wasn’t just some great costume design, it was era appropriate… oh how I couldn’t stop thinking of what that all means. How long she’s been the keeper of secrets and what is going to happen to her now that she’s not.
What’s even better is the names; the Intern is now just Raina and Lucifer is now The Thief. Do you realize how amazing that is? We have nicknames that have stuck and are now changing and it feels natural. I couldn’t even remember Raina’s real name until this issue, but now it’s all I can call her. And Lucifer, I feel like I’m writing it wrong because she’s not Lucifer. That’s how deep these characters are and how well Michael Alan Nelson has developed them. AND HE DID IT WITH ONE ISSUE! Okay it was more like eight, but the turn was in one issue from eight to nine and it could have failed.
I’ve read other comics that have turned their own world upside down in order to continue the story and not fall into the trap of repetitive storytelling and it rarely works. I could give examples, but that doesn’t serve this review any and only serves to pad my opinion of those stories. The point is, we’ve all read a number one issue of a relaunch or a new story arc in which it felt like a new series and well… hated it.
It’s easy to get this wrong, but Nelson gets it right. This does feel like a number one issue and while you do benefit from reading the previous eight, it’s not impossible to start here. The landscape has been obliterated making this issue vastly different from the previous ones.
And what kills me is that it gets zero praise for its cast of characters. They’re all female with the exception of Bob and well he’s a support, support character. I mean his name is Bob for fuck’s sake. No dude named Bob is starring as the lead in this series.
I have praised Dan Mora every single issue and that will not stop here. His work on The Thief alone is amazing because the keeper of secrets grows in stature. Lucifer is now larger in size which is fantastic in and of itself, but you have to take into account how many times Mora’s illustrated the character already and the fact that he doesn’t slip up and illustrate her in the previous way is great. The Thief is ten times as scary as the Harlot because we knew Lucifer prior. The transformation is unsettling and Mora’s artwork reminds us of that.
The coloring from Gabriel Cassata of course plays a big role in the art as well. Let’s just say there’s a friendly ghost in this issue (not that one, I’m doing word play here) and the coloring makes it fit in with the story. There’s a light bluish-purple hue used for the ghost and it makes the ghost feel spirity while still real. You’ll have to see it, but it’s the right fit for the world.
I can’t gush enough about this issue and this series. I know that I’m a man of weird tastes and if you look at my history of reviews you’ll see that; I know I’m all over the place, but some books are good whether I like them or not and this is one of them. I’m not blinded by my own tastes, this is just straight up fantastic storytelling on all fronts. Why you’re not reading it is beyond me because things like Hexed are the exact reason I read comics.