Hex Caster (# 1) – Corey Friya

3 out of 5

A bit too quick on the setup – within pages it’s “here’s your quest and you’re our only hope,” which kind of undermines the stakes and worldbuilding – but by the same token, leaning in to our familiarity with such stories allows writer Corey Friya to take a rather conversational tone and keep the energy high.

It’s a world of witches; a witch long ago made the mistake of damning the wrong member of the coven – Baba Yaga – and in modern day, said witch is now speaking through the ether to sassy witch-in-training Cora to prep her for the returning Yaga’s assault on witchkind.  Now go fetch these items of power from various points in time.

Cora’s dialogue errs toward snippy teenager stuff in this first issue, making her more shallow than interesting, but the aforementioned momentum of the story – which tosses her into a time warp just a few pages in, after a single page of background – keeps the pages turning.  Artist Marika Cresta’s figures are rather loose at points, which can equate to a genericism that further strips Cora of a defined personality beyond the various adjectives I’ve used for her already (e.g. ‘snippy,’ ‘sassy’), but they also deal with the changing backdrops and pace effectively; that is, it definitely feels like a purposeful decision to hit the ground running, and the art helps to convey that without losing a sense of place.

Understanding that this issue may have been written more as a sampling of what the series could be as opposed to a finalized first issue – Corey and team offered it for free after it sounded like publishers passed on it – the story could definitely have benefitted from some more background, and more patient worldbuilding; it’s too light in its current form to demand a second issue, though if one was available, I’d definitely be curious to see if Cora’s adventure could evolve…