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©2018 by Matt Ligeti the Comic Book Yeti. 

  • Matt Ligeti

HEX LOADER, ISSUES #1-3


Writer: Dan Whitehead Art: Conor Boyle Publisher: U.K. Comics Creative


This review covers the first 3 issues in the series. We don't get a whole peek into the entire story arc, so it's hard to tell this early on what the rest of the series has in store for us, and this review may look a little different from the regular Friday ones that cover entire volumes.

WHAT IS IT?

A '80s British coming-of-age story about art, computer games and the magic and mysticism at the intersection of these things.

It's kind of like Mr. Robot meets The Magicians, with a smaller cast and more British.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

(Minor Spoilers)

David is a computer programmer. He's kind of a loner, single, and lives with his mother. His life may be a little dull, but not painfully so, and he certainly never wanted to get a weird spell cast on him by a cassette that may be tied to an old video game programmer friend of his who mysteriously disappeared a year ago.

But now that his life has blown up and he's seeing sights both strange and terrifying, he has no choice but to follow those who can help him uncover the mystery of the tape and his missing friend. And, along the way, these strange bedfellows will teach him to use his computer coding abilities to cast magical spells. But will it be enough to keep him safe and get his life back to normal?

WHAT WORKS?

  • The main character and the story setup feel pulled straight out of those classic stories where a boring life turns extraordinary and fantastic when magic and danger are introduced to the protagonist

  • It's video games, magic and the '80s -- you know this is going to be amazing

  • The world-building and overall mystery are compelling and fun -- you can't help but want to read more and more

  • The magic is grounded in art and science and logic, making it feel like a real and tangible thing

  • Like similar media, the idea that any mundane person can become extraordinary really helps set the hook for readers who may feel normal, ordinary and unmagical

  • Whitehead has a passion for and knowledge of video games that really helps bring this story to life

  • This concept feels ready to be made into a TV show...one that I would love to watch!

  • Jim Campbell does great lettering work, and I'm starting to see him in more and more comics these days

  • Boyle's art style is versatile and can go from fantastical to terrifying, and often uses odd angles to build a sense of discomfort and strangeness that really works for this title

WHAT DOESN'T WORK?

  • There's no color in the comic and, while it isn't totally necessary for this comic, I do feel like an '80s-influenced color palette could be really awesome, especially contrasted against some darker elements of the story

  • I worry that the greater story could be trying to do too much, connecting protest art, magic, video games and computer programming together while trying to tell one cohesive tale, but it's too soon to tell for sure

  • Yes, we've seen a lot of these tropes before in past stories, but here, they feel reshuffled and reconnected into some new and fun and different

  • 3 issues in, and it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of the story; while there's a lot of setup to do, this may not be the best for readers not prepared for a slow burn of a story

  • So far, the only thing making this a "Mature Readers Only" title is the cursing, which feels largely unnecessary

  • I personally and particularly want more exposition and time dedicated to the magic and spellcasting aspects -- it feels like we haven't gotten enough of it yet

  • I didn't realize cassette tapes were used for anything other than music, so it being used as a medium for video games and other computery things was confusing at first


WHY SHOULD I READ IT?

Whitehead, Boyle & Campbell have created a rich world here, a rabbit hole filled with magic and mystery and adventure. All that's left to do is jump in.

WHAT DO I READ NEXT?

If you like the writing:

  • Midwinter by Dan Whitehead & PJ Holden

  • Phonogram, Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

  • Deadline by Brett Ewins & Steve Dillon

If you like the art:

  • Hex Loader, #4 by Dan Whitehead & Conor Boyle

  • Hook Jaw, Vol. 1 by Si Spurrier & Conor Boyle

  • Nowhere Men by Eric Stephenson & Nate Bellegarde

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Dan Whitehead – Writer

  • Often writes about, and is inspired by, video games

  • His background is also in writing about games and writing scripts for them

  • Has also written 2 official Star Wars books

Conor Boyle – Artist

  • Has an "exceptional sense of atmosphere and tension, with an aesthetic I can only inadequately describe as surgical." (Si Spurrier)

  • Is the co-founder of Disconnected Press

Jim Campbell – Letterer & Production

  • Outlander: Hails from the United Kingdom

  • Multitalented: Also enjoys the art side of the creative world

  • Dream Team: Often does lettering for writer, Dan Whitehead

HOW DO I BUY IT?

Click one of these:

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#HexLoader #UKComicsCollective #Whitehead #Boyle #Campbell #80s #Outlander #Multitalented #DreamTeam #MidweekMadness #Indie #VideoGames #SciFi

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