Hell To Pay #1 is a horror/adventure comic published by Image Comics and written by Charles Soule, with art by Will Sliney, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Crank! This is a world where Hell is real and built on money; hundreds of coins were sent out of Hell, each one changing human history. But Hell wants them back and has blackmailed a couple into returning each one.
The plot of this series is fantastic, slowly introducing two realms’ worth of rules and lore. However, from the opening, it is impossible to know where the comic will go. It is a gradual decline into the bizarre; then it drops entirely into the majesty of Hell. Soule’s use of Hell is highly literal and metaphorical at the same time and also forms the basis of the plot.
Then the story shifts as the main characters make themselves known—it becomes a fast-paced adventure with high energy in the form of a heist. The exposition and history are unveiled nicely. While there is a lot, it is balanced with the exhilarating heist that’s going on in the present. But there is a set up for a dangerous twist as a deal with a demon is made, which can never go well. Finally, a grizzly surprise by the end of the comic demonstrates just how dark this comic can get.
The characters are fascinating, especially the protagonists. At first glance, they are con artists and thieves, but their mission requires much more sympathy. Sebastian and Maia appear separately at first, showing just how excellent they are on their own. But there is also tremendous chemistry. What Soule establishes brilliantly is the fact that Hell To Pay #1 joins them late in their journey. They have made their decisions already, which means there is a potential for the story to stretch into the past and the future.
There are other characters involved that are terrifying. There is a mysterious, demonic master that is menacing. The history of Hell laid out in the comic provides the potential for more residents to make an appearance too.
The art is simply fantastic. It is beautiful from the first page to the last, with excellent locations and terrific character designs. The line-weights are superb, creating tremendous changes in the details. But the issue becomes jaw-dropping when the depiction of Hell begins. It is a vast kingdom with truly unique creatures inside. The devils are haunting in their creation, like Dementors from Harry Potter. They are long with skulls on twisted, distended necks. They rule over brutally tortured subjects that are hideously malformed.
Then there are some magnificent action scenes. They can either be long glances down a huge staircase or close-ups of Sebastian taking on armed goons. The sudden changes in panels snap you to attention, but it tells a large part of the story in a small amount of time. However, each page can take a long time to process and is sometimes complicated to follow.
The colours are terrific too. Large parts of the issue are balanced between green and blue, stunning in their combination. But when there is fire or anything related to Hell, the glowing yellow and red seem to overpower and dominate the page, emphasizing their importance to the story. Additionally, the lettering is very easy to read throughout the issue.
Hell To Pay #1 is a powerful first issue. It has an incredible concept that is easy to grasp but contains multiple complex avenues of exploration. Maia and Sebastian work together to form a team that Nathan Drake and Lara Croft pale in comparison to. The blend of horror and action is stitched together superbly. Soule’s script is exciting and weighted with content, while Sliney’s incredibly creative art choices give the book an adventurous energy.
Hell To Pay #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Hell To Pay #1
Hell To Pay #1 is a powerful first issue…The blend of horror and action is stitched together superbly. Soule’s script is exciting and weighted with content, while Sliney’s incredibly creative art choices give the book an adventurous energy.