Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Zulema Scotto Lavina
Colorist: Valentina Cuomo
Letterer: Maurizio Clausi
Publisher: Image Comics
Hexware #1 immediately sets out a twisting narrative ranging from past and present viewpoints of two different, yet very much intertwined characters.
One is Jesminder, a beloved daughter to a seemingly wealthy family. The other? A “Which-Where” which is their android helper of sorts. A familiar, if not well trodden theme which often encourages the questions of autonomy of AI presents itself early and often. While it is one to ponder, and one that many forms of media have done exceedingly well, Hexware throws a twist into well-known territory. It questions what if, alongside the various questions that come up with AI, there’s also an occult story woven in between?
Jesminder is a victim to a terrible attack, one of which isn’t all that uncommon in the world today. As helpful as Which-Where is, there are limits to scientific ability. However, the same cannot be said for the occult. She performs a ritual that intertwines their two fates and pushes Jesminder’s soul into the Which-Where AI body. How’s that for ripping at the question if AI is autonomous or not?
By combining these two usually separate themes, it allows for the meshing of thought-provoking sub plots, like where in one panel a character refers to them as an “Andie” and laments the fact that this is a ”human touch bar” only. It also allows for the introduction of things from the occult side like devils and demons. It’s a blending of two genres that you don’t see often (if ever?), that has the chance to pull the best themes from both worlds.
Art | Coloring | Lettering
If you believe in the saying a first impression is everything, I’d dare you not to get pulled head first into this book simply by its first page. It conveys its mood so well in its use of moody colors. The darker hues with splashes of yellow seep off the page. The overall power of the first page is further emphasized in the way the panels are skewed across the middle section. There is some serious momentum here that does indeed carry all the way through.
Another unique touch are the three distinct lettering box colors. Orange. Yellow. White. Since there is no back story to this point, these mean little. However, the way the story unfolds, you later learn who those three colors represent. The yellow is the AI side of the Which-Where. The orange represents the Jesminder side of the AI. The white a supporting characters in the frame. It’s a subtle, yet obvious touch that allows the reader to key in on voice/tone, but also helps to lessen the confusion that could come about in a past-to-present back and forth narrative.
Hexware #1 intricately crafts a framework made up of the occult and sci-fiction beats. Its story is further enhanced by some of the best use of color, lettering and layout that I’ve seen in quite some time. The pairing of an industry vet (Seeley) and up-and-coming star (Lavina) appears to have paid off in spades. I’d be hard pressed to find someone that wouldn’t be pining for the next issue.