The first five issues of Hex Wives have been a tension-packed ride. The witches have been secretly held captive by the Architects, but each issue they have come closer to finding out the truth. Writer Ben Blacker was toying with his readers in a way that was frustratingly engaging. But now that the secret is out, where does Hex Wives go?
Issue #6 is a big change of pace. The witches have been at the mercy of the Architects since the first issue. The moment we have finally been waiting for has come. For some reason, the payoff lacks the satisfaction it should. Maybe it is the revelation there is a bigger mystery, but that seems unlikely. Hex Wives is an ongoing series and it was clear from the beginning there was going to be more to come.
The flat resolution may be due to the fact the Architects get off relatively lightly. The opening of the comic sets up an opening the rest of the comic does not quite deliver. After all these issues of seeing the wives put through what amounts to mental abuse, seeing their attackers get what amounts to a slap on the wrist is disappointing. The issue lacks the power that has been seen the rest of the series.
Hex Wives has always been a commentary on gender roles in society. At its very base, it is a story of female witches being held down by a male society. But within the pages of the comics, the theme has been handled with very adept hands. From having the witches live in an antiquated version of the American Dream to seemingly innocuous comments that are meant to show the wives their roles, the book has done a great job of highlight gender roles in a clever way.
The sixth issue of the series decides to go on a more straightforward direction. Gone are the little moments that make the reader shudder to themselves. Instead, there are in your face moments that are almost cringy. It’s not that the issue is written poorly — as a matter of fact, one of the more satisfying parts of the issue is how the previously strong men quickly become cowards and turn on each other when the witches are at full strength.
It has been fun to root for the wives as underdogs. Now that they have removed their shackles, it will be interesting to see how Blacker keeps their story engaging. There have been some interesting ideas introduced, and there is still the question of how they got into their situation and what kind of lives they lived before being captured. Blacker has also done a great job of foreshadowing that the Architects are much more powerful than the coven has been led to believe.
Mirka Andolfo’s art focuses on the emotion of the characters. Hex Wives #6 is an important issue and if the emotion does not come across correctly, the impact is lost. Andolfo does a great job of showing the cowardice of the men while showcasing the determination of the women. The last page does a great job of setting up the new direction the book is headed in. There is also a nice callback from Andolfo to the nine panel page she has used the entire series.
Hex Wives #6 is a pivotal issue for the series. The initial story arc has come to an end after some fantastic writing and character development, but issue #6 doesn’t ease readers into the transition. The book is much more direct and the subtlety from previous issues is no longer there. Time will tell if this is a permanent change and how it will affect the series. It will certainly be interesting to see where the witches go from here.