Move over Harry Potter. The Wizarding World has gone high tech. A new age of magic has risen in the indie comic HEX11 under a Blade Runner-esque future.
In the world of HEX11, magic is now a form of technology that can be harnessed and commodified by giant corporations. It is no longer exclusive as your typical human can use magic via an aural implant-like piece of device. As the society moves from the Digital Age to the Magic Age, magic has become the currency by which corporations use to strengthen their stranglehold on the society.
Tension is building up between the “muggles” and those who are born with magic. The later are forced to retreat to the mega-slum of the Hex, the last safe haven where they could still practice magic in peace. The story begins as our protagonist and young witch Elanor Kent is drawn into a sketchy deal gone bad between black market smuggler Booth Chaplin and demon mercenary Osrick over a dangerous piece of magic tech. For the past 5 years, the headstrong and restless Elanor is the apprentice to veteran witch Vera, one of the strongest spells casters in the whole of the Hex. When adventure beckons, the young witch jumps straight into it and soon finds herself caught up in a sinister corporate conspiracy that is way out of her depth. As magic and corporations collide, where does she find herself in this brave new world?
HEX11 is an ongoing series produced by an all-female team, consisting of illustrator Lisa K. Weber, writer Kelly Sue Milano, and producer/editor Lynly Forrest. The indie comic has recently finished its first volume run and the first issue for Volume 2 will premiere at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. The amazing threesome from HEX11 is also behind the running of HexComix – an independent Los Angeles-based comic book label and nominee of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity.
You have magic, science fiction, quirky characters, demons, intrigue, conspiracy and the most adorable flying dragon cats ever all in one package – what’s there not to like about HEX11? From the start, HEX11 passed the Bendel test with its strong and complex female characters. We are invested in Elanor’s coming of age, just as we are intrigued by Agnes’ motives and in love with the psychotic Faye.
There are strands of Whedonesque in the dialogue which is both smart and witty, though clunky at times (especially for the first 2 issues when the foundation is being laid for the comic). The characters are well fleshed out and the story is gripping enough to hook you in with its gradual revelations through the issues.
We can draw interesting and timely parallels between the Hex and real life. Replace magic with money and you have a similar class war brewing between the haves and have-nots in our world, similar to the world of the Hex. Magic hasn’t been around in HEX11 for long so we get witness the fallout in the Hex as the society lurches to a new magic era, not unlike the volatile times we are living in now.
The idea of magic as a technology is an interesting twist for the fantasy genre. Forget about Harry Potter style of visual representation that we are used to. Magic is depicted in HEX11 as an energy stream or blast, which fits perfectly with the sci-fi nature of the series. This is where Lisa’s animation based style of illustration comes in handy to integrate magic seamlessly into this futuristic dystopia. The art direction and character designs with their vivid colors and lush backgrounds are just as striking as they are beautifully drawn and colored.
The story arc for the first volume came to a satisfying conclusion in issue 6, with a clever cliffhanger to make you come back for more. Hex11 shows a lot of promise with its first run and we can barely wait to be transported back to the wonderful world of the Hex and hang out with Elanor and friends for more adventures.
Volume Two of #Hex11 comes out on July 20, just in time for San Deigo Comic Con. Pre-orders are available now in the HexComix webstore and print editions will be shipping at the end of July. To find out more about Team Hex11, click here to listen to our Tomboy Tirade interview with these awesome ladies.