For generations, a war has been waged for the soul of America. On one side are The Architects – men of good faith (and only men), who have shaped the nation to establish a design they call The Natural Order. The other side has no name, being made up of a coven of witches, continually reborn across the ages of man, who use their blood magic to thwart the designs of The Architects, primarily by empowering other women to stand against their designs.
With their shadow war slowly being lost and their numbers dwindling, The Architects need a solution – one that will not result in the bloodshed that only serves to deplete their numbers and empower the witches. Thankfully, one Architect has a plan. One which will turn the witches’ own magic against them, and bind them and their power according to The Natural Order.
Much like how Vertigo Comics’ new series Border Town might be compared to Stranger Things, so too can Hex Wives be broadly compared to The Stepford Wives. Both stories share a common theme of women being forced into the role of a “domestic goddess” but in this case the impetus is magic rather than science. Ben Blacker’s script runs wild with this idea, where the wildest stereotypes about church-going conservative men and feminist lesbians are cranked up to 11 and every conspiracy theory about “what they really want” is true. In this, the story manages to balance the political aspects so that neither side is “the right one.”
Ignoring the social commentary, Hex Wives also works as a straight-forward horror story, from multiple angles. It is notable for putting a spin on series such as Charmed, presenting a less heroic group of witches who are, from their perspective, trying to save the world from The Patriarchy. The hell of it (pun intended) is they have a point in that The Architects are just as harmful in their manipulations of society as the witches are in their destruction of societal norms.
The artwork is, in a word, gorgeous. The pencils and inks of Mirka Andolfo (most recently seen on DC’s Bombshells, Ms. Marvel and Harley Quinn) prove a perfect complement to Blacker’s script. Andolfo draws beautiful, active women better than most and is skilled enough an artist to accurately depict the different scenes and costumes as we move through time from the first battle between The Architects and The Witches at Salem (of course) to their apparent final battle at the height of the Katrina flooding in 2005. The action sequences are all well-blocked and the colors of Marissa Louise leave a glow upon the page that makes it seem like actual light is pouring from the book during the many scenes that are lit by fire.
While it may not appeal to those who prefer their comics free of heavy subtext, those who enjoy a good supernatural ripping yarn and a bit of dark comedy will find Hex Wives #1 to be the perfect treat this Halloween. Once again, Vertigo Comics knocks it out of the park with one of their new revival series. Here’s hoping the rest of the new line continues along in this vein.
Hex Wives #1 releases on October 31, 2018!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.