The hooded man has a heap of Qurrakh to fund his plans. Maia only has 666. Do either of them have enough to get what they ultimately want? Find out in Hell to Pay #6 from Image Comics!
HELL TO PAY #6
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Will Sliney
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Chris Crank
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 28, 2023
Previously in Hell to Pay: Maia goes to the Shrouded College to ask their assistance to rescue Sebastian. They refuse. Meanwhile, the hooded man finally believes he has minted enough Qurrakh, thanks to Sebastian. He still has some soul left, so the hooded man gives Milena leave to harvest it. Maia goes to Alexander’s cell. She now has his final coin and can use it to set him free. But she wants to make a deal first. He agrees and signs the contract she offers. They leave the Shrouded College with all the Qurrakh he stole. Maia uses one of them to ask a demon to let her be with her husband. She lands in the Qurrakh mint near her dying husband. Spending another coin gives her the knowledge that any coins created from his soul might be used to return part of his soul to him.
THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY
Hell to Pay #6 opens with the hooded man. He has his desk, his ledger, and an enormous heap of Qurrakh. He is ready to put his plan into action. He spends his first coin, and a demon arrives. He tells it to summon the Devil for him. It makes some excuses. After all, Hell has its hierarchy, even bureaucracy. It can’t just walk in and bring the Devil himself. It needs to do some networking, maybe even bring in its manager for the measly cost of yet another Qurrakh.
Agreeing, the hooded man contacts Milena to let her know things may take a while, and until then, he wishes to be undisturbed. Milena is busy fighting Maia and a demon, but she is confident that she can hold them off. Maia gives the demon permission to Kill Milena, grabs the canister from the machine, and pours remnants of Sebastian’s soul back into him.
As Milena slugs it out, we learn that her wings and halo are for looks – she is not really an angel. Sebastian appears to be dying and Maia demands to know what is going on. The demon reassures her that it should work, but it might be a painful process. Maia turns her magic on the machine and threatens to destroy it. Milena is the consummate bureaucrat. She does not care about the machine. She is just doing her job and does not have time for all this. Her opinion of the world is that everyone lives their lives to be cogs in the machine. She does not want to live like that, and the hooded man wants to make the world a better place. She also does not mind if the price involves thousands of lives because those people were going to die anyway. Would it not be better if their lives helped improve things in the future?
The hooded man continues to work his way up through the ranks of demons in his attempt to get to the Devil. One of them reminds him that the point of money, especially the Qurrakh, is simply to spend it. Otherwise, it is only dead weight.
Milena takes the fight directly to Maia. They are very closely matched, but suddenly Sebastian strikes Milena with his sword. He is still quite wounded and cannot speak. Milena is not afraid of death; she lived her life on her terms. Sebastian communicates to Maia that they should go after the hooded man, and they arrive just as he has finally burned through enough Qurrakh and ranks of demons to bring the Devil in.
The ending is entertaining in part and also sets up potential future stories in this universe, and it sounds like the creators do have plans for more in the works.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Not only is the art of Hell to Pay #6 imaginative, but it is also energetic as the issue explodes into the conclusion. The fight between Milena and Maia is action-packed and I love how the panels capture their movements in full dramatic extension. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of a very physical fight and the conversation where we learn that Milena is just trying to do her job. There is also a point where Maia manages to knock Milena off a high platform to an expected death. Milena may not be an actual angel, but she reminds Maia that she still has wings that are perfectly functional. I am also amused by how annoyed Milena is throughout.
I also liked how the story sets up the hooded man’s purchasing of demonic only gets him through one layer of bureaucracy at a time. The first iteration sets it up. The second iteration is shorter and confirms the pattern. Beyond that point, all it takes is some interspersed panels with the hooded man and we understand that he is stubbornly continuing the process. The fact that he does eventually reach the Devil is no surprise and is also satisfying. But despite this, we are not entirely prepared for how he will react to the hooded man’s proposal.
BOTTOM LINE: SLYLY CREATIVE
While over the top and almost brutal at times, Hell to Pay #6 has a sly, dark sense of humor not only with its characters but also with its take on capitalism. It’s a strong setup for a potentially very interesting world of future stories.
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Hell to Pay #6
It is a race against time as Maia tries to rescue Sebastian and stop the hooded man from hiring the Devil himself!