Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery is the second in the Hex Vet series of graphic novels released by writer/artist Sam Davies through BOOM! Studios. This time last Christmas, I reviewed Hex Vet: Witches in Training, a sturdy, little story that I happened to enjoy quite a bit. I picked up The Flying Surgery hoping that the nitpicks I had with the first story had been ironed out, and I’m happy to say they have!
Hex Vet follows two witches in training, Clarion Wellspring and Annette Artifice. The two are trainees at the Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice which treats magical creatures. Clarion is bubbly, but awkward, and Annette struggles to make friends because of her family’s tie to dark magic. In their first book, the two bonded over an incident with a bugbear, and, this time around, they’re left dealing with flying creatures while their teacher is out investigating the nearby forest.
The artwork retains its clean, colorful style that first attracted me to the series. I love how characters instantly stand out. In a few places, Davies uses these stark characters to foreshadow events later in the story. For instance, near the beginning of the book, we see a witch who crashes into a bush in the background of an early panel. Later, she appears as a patient at the vet, complaining that her familiar stole her magic eye and she keeps crashing from lack of depth perception.
One bit of constructive criticism for future releases: I’d like to see them mix things up with panel layout and framing. There are a lot of close up shots of people talking, and it made some scenes feel a bit repetitive. More long shots, action shots, and transition shots would be well served.
Where this installation really shines, though, is in its writing! If you read my review last year, you’d know I was a bit passive towards the story. It was serviceable, but nothing to write home about. This time around, the story is lifted up by the character interactions. We learn a little more about Clarion and Annette, as well as supporting characters like Nurse Chantsworth. Most importantly, we see how the two leads have bonded. By far, the best scene is when the two are comforting each other in the back room of the flying surgery. They truly feel like friends, and you get this real sense that they are trying to support each other in a stressful career.
I’m also happy to report that I didn’t spot a single spelling error in this release. The overall editing seemed significantly stronger with this book which is a promising sign for future installments.
If I gave out rewards for the books that I review, Hex Vet would win most improved. The first book was a solid, fun experience, but Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery elevated the series into one I’ll be watching with great interest. If you have young readers interested in fantasy, this is a great series. While I still recommend the first book, you could jump straight into Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery with no issue.
Creative Team: Sam Davies (Writer/Artist), Mike Fiorentino (Letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.