January 8, 2009

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Hexed #1

Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Illustrated by Emma Rios
BOOM! Studios

Man, I haven't reviewed anything in single issue form for so long, I almost forget how.

I have to admit, if Hexed wasn't available online for free, I'd probably not have noticed it at the comic book store. I don't really read anything new in floppies anymore, and while I tend to look for new series to try, my luck with indie single-issue comics has not been very fruitful. Maybe I'll re-think that, given that I will be going all-trade on other stuff, so taking a flier on a title won't make my comic shop visits bank-busters.

At any rate, Hexed is going to be a simultaneous release online and in comic shops. BOOM! has done this before, so they know how it works. And apparently, sales went up (not down) on the title as a result.

Hexed is the story of a thief of magical items that looks like she belongs in the Vertigo universe, but since her name is also Lucifer, this might present confusion at the Endless' summer parties. We learn a bit about her from inner monologue, part from her interesting series of employers, both past and present. She's a mix of innocence and hard-edged occultist tricks, a balancing act that writer Nelson tries (but I think just misses) to pull off. Lucifer is asked to do things for a man she hates and will inevitably fight, setting up our series.

The cute stuff--a teddy bear as protection against cults or wanting to hear an old wives' tale from her employer--strikes me as a bit too juvenile for a person who can think about the use of feminine wiles to get into parties. It jars even more against dialogue that discusses shooting people's wombs or acts of necromancy. The writing gets better as the issue progresses, however, which is a good sign.

The artist, Emma Rios, does, I think, a great job with the script, despite some of the problems I had with the pacing and action. She's not going to win any awards, at least not yet (I hear she is new to comics), but her style is better than a lot of the work published by Marvel (and especially DC) right now. Lucifer is highlighted and yet also muted in the opening scenes, and the transition to works of magic from the mundane are handled well. Her characters move in space and remain fluid, even when the scene mostly involves talking.

I am also greatful for a lack of gratuitous sexy art. Lucifer is down to business, and even a presumed panty shot is not nearly as sexed-up as, say, Black Canary.

All in all, while I'm not going to run out and grab this from the store, I may pick it up to support the concept, namely giving readers a taste of a new thing. I think it's a solid comic trying to do what Vertigo used to do--give a reader an adult story that isn't gory or sexed-up just because the label says "Mature" on it. It's definitely worth checking out, which you can do here.