Time is ticking and Sebastian is captured! Maia is determined to rescue him. When the Shrouded College will not help her, can she find anyone who will? Find out in Hell to Pay #5 from Image Comics!
HELL TO PAY #5
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Will Sliney
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Chris Crank
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 7, 2023
Previously in Hell to Pay: Sebastian and Maia have a contract to find and collect all the Qurrakh coins in circulation on Earth. But there are more than expected – a mysterious hooded man is manufacturing more like it is the crypto from Hell. Worse, he has captured Sebastian and now mines his soul to make even more Qurrakh. He, we learn, was once a poor boy who learned how to become rich over and over again, before having his fortunes taken away. Unlike most people, though, when he gets his hands on a single Qurrakh, he would rather be poor than rich.
A WOMAN IN LOVE
Hell to Pay #5 opens with an interlude from the 1930s. In this adventure of a Qurrakh in the past, we learn about the diamond mines in South Africa. Diamonds were never scarce – how can they be sold profitably without destroying the market for them? For the cost of a Qurrakh, a demon suggests that he manufactures demand for diamonds. With three little words, “Diamonds are forever,” they become associated with love and weddings. I love the way this book weaves these threads of history into the story.
Maia goes to the Shrouded College and asks for their help to rescue Sebastian. They turn her down. They have used their scarce resources to give Maia and her husband special powers. As far as they are all concerned, she should rescue him herself. She threatens to return if she is unable to save him. They remind her that the things they have given her can be taken away again.
Sebastian is running out of time. His soul has provided Qurrakh for the hooded man, who now has enough coins for his deal with some extras on hand. His assistant, Milena, thinks Sebastian still may have a coin in him yet, and the hooded man gives her leave to harvest it.
Maia pays a visit to Alexander’s prison cell. He stole the original 666 Qurrakh; she now has the last one of that batch. If she gives it to him, he will be free. On the other hand, the first thing he wants to do when he is free is to kill her. But she has a deal for him, and a contract to sign, which he does. She gives him the last Qurrakh, and he is free. They walk out of the Shrouded College taking all of Alexander’s Qurrakh with them.
Maia uses a Qurrakh to summon a demon. She wants to be with her husband. She did not word this carefully enough, as she rapidly realizes. She ends up in the Qurrakh mine. On the other hand, she frees Sebastian, but then must spend another coin to find out how to save his life. This demon tells her that the coins created from his soul hold a small piece of it and they can be used to bring it back to him.
The demon design in Hell to Pay #5 continues to be nightmarish yet entertaining. The first one we see has three heads connected to their body by sinews, giving them a disembodied appearance. The demon’s arms end with blades where its hands would be. It may not be a practical design, but it is creepy. Then the first one Maia summons has a red body with a skull for a head, and six arms ending in clawed fingers. There is no end to the imagination that devises them.
Alexander the Great fairly crackles with a magical glow. His prison cell is made of bone, and it is barely big enough to hold him and his ill-gotten coins. His clothing is tattered, and his armor worn, but when he receives the last of his Qurrakh, the bone cage shatters around him. He puts on his helmet for the first time in eons and picks up his sword. The guards with modern weapons are no match for his sword and his magic.
BOTTOM LINE: A RACE AGAINST TIME
Hell to Pay #5 is building up to the end of the arc, and it is obvious that there is a lot going on. The deals are complicated, and demons do like to finesse them where they can. The background concept keeps things interesting as well as providing an anchor to reality in this fascinating story.
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Hell to Pay #5
It is up to Maia to rescue Sebastian while the hooded man finally mints a sufficiency of Qurrakh.