Hex Wives from DC Vertigo has laid its intentions bare from its very first issue. This is a book about the battle between the sexes. Magic and technology have mixed with misogyny and tension to tell an engaging story that keeps readers asking each issue, “is this when the wives finally learn of their true powers?”
The pacing in Hex Wives has been great. Each issue has realistically brought the wives tantalizingly closer to realizing the type of powers they possess. Writer Ben Blacker has done an excellent job of dangling the carrot in front of readers. Every issue it seems it will be impossible for the Architects to keep the secret from their wives. Each time, however, the story prevents it from happening.
It’s frustrating for the reader, but not in a way that makes a person want to stop reading the book. Instead, it draws people even deeper into the story by creating a sense of anticipation. The wives are so close that it’s impossible to turn away. Blacker has done a great job of drawing the story out without making it seem forced. It would have been really easy to have the powers revealed in an issue or two, but this also would have been anticlimactic. Patient storytelling has made Hex Wives a better series.
The careful pacing of Hex Wives has also given Blacker more time to explore each character. This can be difficult since the story has a fairly large cast and it has been a relatively short amount of time. Still, Blacker has done a wonderful job of explaining who Isadora, Aaron, and the rest of the characters are. Aaron seems to get more evil with each issue, while Izzy is written as a great sympathetic heroine. Great characters make Hex Wives a very easy read.
Hex Wives #5 does bring up a very interesting question. For a brief moment, the first issue seems to paint all of its characters in shades of grey. The witches may be doing bad things, but they are not necessarily evil people. On the other hand, the Architects are certainly not good men, but based on the death and destruction they have seen, one can almost understand where they are coming from. As Hex Wives has progressed, it is clear the men are in fact, very evil. As for the hex wives themselves…
As Izzy is trying to figure out what she can do in issue five, she also learns something frightening. With great power, comes great rage — and it’s not the friendly kind. One question has been beneath the surface of the story from the beginning: What happens once the women discover their true power? The fifth issue adds even more layers as it is no longer just a case of what the witches’ captors will do. What will the world — and more importantly — the women do?
Artist Mirka Andolfo uses a more subdued style that adds to the story. Of particular notice is the nine panel setup that has been used as Izzy is dressing. In previous issues this was done to show how painstakingly she would work at making herself for Aaron. Andolfo uses the same look to show that Izzy’s new found independence.
The fear and desperation in Aaron is drawn perfectly by Andolfo. The head of the hex wives’ captivity is the hardest character to truly get a handle on. He is so disingenuous and downright treacherous that it is pretty much impossible to figure what he is thinking. Andolfo makes it clear in issue five Aaron is very worried about an impending visit from his boss, Aaron Kelly. Andolfo’s art adds to the tension of Hex Wives.
Hex Wives #5 is the culmination of a great story. It’s a tension-filled episode that begs further questions. Up until now, Hex Wives has had its readers wanting the women to rediscover their true power. As they become closer, a new fear has come with the hope. What happens when the witches learn what they are able to do?