There’s a lot to like in Michael Alan Nelson and Dan Mora’s “Hexed” #1, a new series building off a four-issue mini-series by Nelson and Emma Rios in 2008. Reading the old series is not necessary to understand this new one, which is smart, and Nelson and Mora tell a solid story with a nice hook of an ending.
A lot of what Nelson does in this first issue is really fun and shows potential for an intriguing series, but there are some rough edges, especially as they relate to the main character who is a little too Mary Sue for her own good. Though Lucifer is pitched to readers as borderline villainous — or at least an anti-heroine — all of her actions here are baldly heroic, especially her self-sacrifice to rescue someone she doesn’t even like. Even her too-easy art theft has more to it than meets the eye. However, despite skills coming to her too easily and seemingly knowing all the answers, she has a lot of potential as a layered and complex character. And she’s not the only one.
The book is filled with interesting female characters including villain Madame Cymbaline; an old friend for Lucifer in Val; a potential frenemy in Raina; and nobody-quite-knows-what in The Harlot. The women that surround Lucifer are easily as compelling as Lucifer herself, which is never a bad thing. Although at times it feels like the dialogue is trying too hard to be clever, it sometimes succeeds, both in subverting expectations and in being straight-up entertaining.
Mora had a lot to live up to as a follow-up act to Emma Rios, and he goes his own way, not trying to emulate Rios, which is a good call. Some of the less magic-based scenes have an almost-retro feel that’s exceedingly beautiful. The slightly desaturated and subdued colors by Gabriel Cassata are reminiscent of a really great looking old-fashioned cartoon. The really “mundane” stuff is easily Mora’s most gorgeous work, almost breathtaking in how he does something as simple as render hair. The quieter scenes are also exceptionally well paced, a really fine-tuned eye for conversation and expression, how people move about a room, and the small emotional moments that make a scene work so well. However, the action scenes are a bit inconsistent, sometimes firing on all cylinders to good effect and sometimes lacking in clarity. Although there are some inconsistencies in the work, Mora finds a great look for Lucifer and her supporting cast overall, and he really embraces some of the more extreme character designs.
With an interesting, if slightly uneven, execution and a particularly strong ending, there are many reasons to come back for a second issue of “Hexed.”