Michael Alan Nelson, the writer and creator of Hexed (Fall of Cthulu Omnibus, which was awesome), doesn’t waste his time on specifically laying everything out that’s happened before. Someone has died, and the main characters, Raina and Bob, are at the funeral. Their friend, and Raina’s previous boss, has become some God-like keeper of secrets, and the former keeper of secrets is holed up in their apartment, saying and doing nothing in a way that makes you worried. Nelson does a really fantastic job plotting out the ideas, catching you up while never being on the nose. Not only that, but by the end of the issue, you’ve already started to care about what’s happening to these characters and are ready for the next step of their journey – collecting magical items that are spread around in some creepy/dangerous places.
Oh, by the way, Raina is a novice necromancer who brings a dead cat back to life that turns out to be pretty badass. Could this be the second most awesome cat next to Lying Cat? We’ll see. The little bugger proves himself worthy enough to stick around for a while, and the mythology Nelson is laying down appears to be layers thick, which is a definite plus. Nelson is a world builder.
Nelson maintains a dry sense of humor throughout, and at any point in which you feel the story could trail off into cheesy retreaded territory, he diverts suddenly and surprises you with something kind of cool.
Part of what drew me in was the look and feel of the book. Dan Mora’s (Quixote) art is solid. He balances out the creepy and foreboding with the dialogue-driven scenes, and you really get the sense that all of this can easily exist in reality. He also brings a cinematic flair to the moments that aren’t based in reality. Gabriel Cassata’s (3 Guns, Fanboys vs. Zombies) colors are really quite phenomenal, accentuating the story and art in a way that truly separates the real from the surreal without going completely bonkers. While Nelson and Mora’s art grounds everything, Cassata adds that cognitive dissonance needed – these aren’t places where humans should roam. His use of yellows, reds, purples, light blues, and greens to create subtle dynamics between the real and hyperreal is really quite beautiful.
I know I didn’t have to pay for this book as I’m reviewing it, but it still takes time to read and write these things. It can be like sitting down at a diner and deciding to try Eggs Benedict for the first time ever at the age of 36, hoping that it isn’t a completely mediocre experience. Nobody wants a bad meal. I can say that I’m glad I took the chance on Hexed like I’m glad I took the chance on Eggs Benedict without a side. Neither were a waste of time, and both were surprisingly tasty and fulfilling with hints of flavor I wasn’t expecting.