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Image Comics’ Hell to Pay #1

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  • Hell To Pay #1

    Hell To Pay #1

    Writer:
    Charles Soule

    Artist:
    Will Sliney

    Letterer:
    Chris Crank

    Cover Artist:
    Dave Johnson

    Publisher:
    Image Comics

    Price:
    $3.99

    Release Date:
    2022-11-02

    Colorist:
    Rachelle Rosenberg

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can change fortunes — especially if the currency comes from Hell. Written by Charles Soule, drawn by Will Sliney, colored by Rachelle Rosenberg, and lettered by Chris Crank, Image Comics’ Hell to Pay #1 is the start of a new supernatural series that’s advertised as a merger of Indiana Jones and Hellboy. It’s still too early to tell if that description is accurate; however, the first installment of the story definitely gives the reader a lot to chew on.


Maia and Sebastian Stone aren’t a regular married couple. While other lovebirds might spend their time searching for new plants to add some botanical beauty to their gardens, the Stones are out and about looking for cursed coins from the depths of Hell. In debt to the magical Shrouded College, Maia and Sebastian are close to finding all the coins and being freed from their obligations, but their latest mission throws a wrench in the gears that none of them could have anticipated.

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The overarching narrative of Hell to Pay #1 is captivating and unique. There aren’t many stories like this one out there, and there are genuine hooks and premises to keep the reader invested. Unfortunately, the book is also bogged down by an abundance of exposition through flashbacks. While this is the first installment of a brand-new story, and the characters and their motivations need more explaining than usual, it does feel like these flashbacks could have been spread out over a few issues rather than all in one sitting. There’s a lot of information presented here, including some details that don’t seem to be as important to the plot right now.

At the same time, there are also a few false finishes here. It’s arguable that Hell to Pay #1 could end when Maia and Sebastian encounter the major twist in the tale inside Ian’s castle, yet the story continues for a few more pages. It would have made sense to end with the shocking revelation and have the reader wondering what happens next. While the inevitable cliffhanger page isn’t terrible by any means and does present pressing questions, it isn’t quite as strong as it could have been.

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On the artwork side, Sliney, Rosenberg, and Crank find the right balance of conveying the supernatural, horror, and mystery elements of the story. Sliney’s linework is easy on the eye and unintimidating for the reader. The artist’s action sequences stand out, as the panels create an alluring movement and flow for the fight scenes that feel cinematic. Rosenberg’s colors bounce back and forth between warm and cold hues to toy with the reader’s emotions. Topping it all off, Crank keeps the lettering neat and tidy, never diverting eyes away from the action on the page.

Taken as a whole, Hell to Pay #1 is a middling first issue. There are genuine great moments and exciting concepts that dare to do something different in the medium; however, the biggest albatross around the story’s neck is the desire to explain everything straight away. That being said, with the copious amounts of exposition out of the way, it could free the subsequent issues to dive into the juicy parts of the story.

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