Written by Tim Seeley
Penciled by Stefano Caselli
Inked by Sunder Raj
48 pages, color
Published by Devil’s Due Publishing

Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has talked in great detail about how he created the character as a reaction to one of the staples of slasher horror movies: the helpless cheerleader being slaughtered by the monster. One gets the impression that’s the same genesis that Tim Seeley had for Hack/Slash. The question is, have Seeley and company managed to create a property that can achieve the same level of popularity?

Cassie Hack had a more difficult high school experience than most people can claim. Having her mother being the school lunch lady would have been bad enough, but having Mrs. Hack kill her fellow students, get caught and die, then come back from the grave and kill even more students is a sequence of events that few can rival in terms of really bad high school years. Now she, along with a deformed man named Vlad, travel the country in search of other slashers to stop them before they kill any others. After all, if killing her murderous undead mother was possible for Cassie, taking care of random slashers should be a piece of cake.

Hack/Slash opens with a really fun sequence that introduces Cassie and Vlad, and by the time the book was done with the first of scenes I was in pretty high spirits. The only problem is, once you get past Cassie’s first killing and then a flashback to her origin, the rest of Hack/Slash isn’t nearly as clever. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Hack/Slash isn’t a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. Seeley’s writing is just so much more fun in the first part of the book that it’s a little disappointing to see it turn into just a standard hunting-down-the-killer story. Fortunately, Seeley’s story in itself isn’t bad, if admittedly one that you’ve seen a dozen times before as someone wrongfully killed comes back to get revenge on both their killers and anyone else unfortunate enough to get in their way. Seeley paces the story well, and there are little bits of dialogue and character moments for Cassie that stand out as we hear just why Cassie tracks down killers.

Stefano Caselli and Sunder Raj’s pencils and inks on Hack/Slash are a good choice for this book. They’ve got a good sense of what is scary and how to pull it off on the page; seeing the flashbacks of Mrs. Hack or the current killer that Cassie’s trailing show that these guys know how to draw monsters. Caselli gives Cassie a really sharp look, one that’s sexy without ever being over the top or gratuitous. It’s nice to see an artist that understands that you can draw a hot woman without a gigantic chest hanging out of her top. My only real nitpicking with Caselli’s character designs is that both Vlad and the main villain of Hack/Slash have a sort of mask over their noses and mouths, and coupled with their off-color skin at a glance it’s easy to confuse the two. Still, it’s a strong-looking book on the whole.

Hack/Slash is a good book, but it’s a pity that it’s not a great book like the early pages made me think. Hopefully if there are more Hack/Slash comics down the line we’ll see that level of fun and excitement return, because it would be easy to watch Hack/Slash degenerate into “killing the slasher of the month” over and over again. Right now, though, this is a solid enough “pilot” that I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to a regular series.

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