Saturday, January 4, 2014

CBR:Quickies Hack/Slash (Series 2)

After a long run at Devil's Due Publishing, Tim Seeley's cult series Hack/Slash moved to Image Comics (*as previously discussed).

In this second half of this horror/slasher tribute we find our "last girl" Cassie Hack and her sidekick/friend Vlad going around the country and facing supernatural killers back from the dead. And putting them back into their graves, free of charge!

With a few other survivors, Chris Krank and Lisa Elsten, they launched a website Hack/Slash Inc for people seeking their help and advices. 

But several old and new slashers are after them... and the mysterious Black Lamp Society might be too much for them...

Comic title: Hack/Slash Volume 9: Torture Prone 
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Jethro Morales & Daniel Lester
Format: Trade Paperback collecting the Hack/Slash Annual #2 and issues #1-4 of the second Hack/Slash series.

The book opens to a small recap of the various characters at play here and where the series left at the previous publisher.

We are then introduced to a future ruled by slashers! Going by the "Murder Messiah" slasher order. The story alternates between this dark future and present day. A witch called Libby Lochs is attempting to go back in time to prevent this world ruled by slashers. She tries some spells (Zatanna-style) and ends up meeting Chris and Lisa's "dog" Pooch, now a full grown demonic dog.

Launching this second series main "Akakios" storyline.

Back in the present, the story picks up where the last one left, with characters and plot already established.

Cassie and Vlad are after a serial killer with an obsession on our slasher-killers.

Back in Eminence, we find Lisa now pregnant. Cassie has ordered the slasher-turned-ally Samhain to protected their friends. Pooch is the only one that doesn't like much Samhain's presence.

Cassie and Vlad go looking for "Georgia", Cassie's one time almost-girlfriend really named Margaret.

After that we see the hellish dimension our heroes faces once before where Six Sixx gained his powers, the Nef, has produced a new avatar through several experiments.. a "Stillborn"!!

Vlad has a "man-talk" with Chris. Cassie's been after one slasher and another non-stop since meeting Georgia again...

The next case takes them to a problem where two slasher might be involved... some they thought they had already defeated.. How is that possible?

Back in Eminence, we find Cat Curio again, the Junior Detective! There's suddenly a horde of animal slashers in town! Thankfully Sam is here on time to save our other heroine.

Cassie and Vlad find the Acid Lady slasher again, a killer who lurks on prey with her supernatural abilities and her own body... careful, though! Her touch will burn ya!

Overall: This was a great new volume, despite lying on so much continuity, it's a perfectly fine starting point.

And such one massive trade at that, so many issues collected in this book to catch up and make-up for the break in the series!

Hack/Slash is stilly a very original series, keeping horror fun and gory! Tim Seeley's series has such a distinctive witty tone, and bloody kills!

There's some great humor in this book, sometimes a bit puerile I'll admit, but still very true to the tone of 1980s horror stories.

A very fun read, over-the-top action and still a must for fans of the genre and newcomers!

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hack/Slash Volume 10: Dead Celebrities
Written by Tim Seeley & Benito Cereno
Art by Daniel Lester, Ariel Zucker-Brull & Kyle Strahm
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues  #5-8 of the second Hack/Slash series and the special issue Hack/Slash Annual #3: Hatchet/Slash.

In the first part of this volume we are (re)introduced to a "mysterious woman". Or rather, a Mystery Woman to be precise, Fantomah of the Jungle! Through vintage comic book-style pages showing us this super heroine in her prime, with her amazing superpowers, revealed to have "revenant" origins back in volume 8 (the scientific term for slashers in the series).

She went to the Amazon Rainforest last time Cassie saw her, only to find the place devastated... triggering her inner demons! Now Fantomah needs our heroes help in return... one way or another!

She forces them to join her finding the source of her troubles. The place is apparently producing slasher dogs! What is really going on there...

Next. some pop-music star from "Art Projekt" is murdered!

Vlad was watching the news for these sort of celebrities, he does love that kind of stuff. Cassie's dream turns out to be true, and the murderer's actual point of view! Not another dream-killer, is it?...

Pooch followed Cat Curio back to her home.

Someone's been murdering celebs and Cassie has first front and center place through her dream visions.

Vlad encounters Nef's bastard "son"... at least, one of them. But it doesn't last long.

It appears they have preparing the way for the Neflords. Through pop stars!

Finally this comic closes with the "Hatchet/Slash" tale! In which Cassie faces the Hatchet series' very own Victor Crowley!

Someone's been able to trap this modern slasher in an enclosed Hyperdome with a group of teenagers. Using the murderous serial killer in captivity and bait those cannon fodder.

The real villain turns out to be the last surviving person, now torturing people for her own amusement and revenge!

Overall: What a perfect volume of Hack/Slash, this entry contains all that is great about this series in a nutshell!

 This volumes collect the famous Hatcher crossover issue! Through Image Comics, Tim Seeley wasn't able to produce as many crossovers as in the past (or didn't get the time to do so). This is a great showcase of what this series can manage to do when crossing path with established horror icons.

It's also a perfect example of the free control creators can only find through the comic medium which would have been rendered impossible going through Hollywood "suits". And usually in the horror/B-movie genre creators still retain full control of their creations unlike mainstream big budget motion pictures.

Now that Hack/Slash is at Image, the series is showing a bit more nudity than in the past.. mind you, it's not that much and doesn't detract much from the overall story (it's not that kinda lowbrow T&A either).

At the end of the day, it's a very fun book. Tim Seeley seems to be having fun with his creation and it shows.

This time it parodies reality TV and celebrities.

Another epic read, a great book with great art and mocking clichés and tropes of the genre.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hack/Slash/Eva Monster’s Ball 
Written by Brandon Jerwa
Art by Cezar Razek
Format: Trade Paperback collecting the Hack/Slash/Eva: Monster’s Ball 4-issue mini-series.

Opening with extracts from the journals of Victor Frankenstein (so I guess this takes place in the continuity of the old Universal Monsters films) it introduces this story's main plot gimmick, talking about the source of his artistically created life, The Philospher's Stone.

"Monster's Ball" shows the tales of both our heroines here in parallel, in mirror to each other prior to their meeting.

On one side you have Eva the daughter of Dracula, first introduced to a modern audience in Army of Darkness vol. 3: Ash vs. The Classic Monsters. Eva sort of found herself lost in time, cleaning the world from dark creatures.

She is kind of an equal to Cassie, our 21st century badass anti-heroine. They actually have both their own monstrous sidekicks actually in the form of Michael, Frankenstein's very own creature, and Vlad respectively.

Pretty similar overall, just as different once you get to know them personally.

A dude contacts Cassie after seeing a very strange pattern in some old defeated slasher bodies being stolen (for this tale and also a later incoming story). He gets killed, the killer tries to escape.

Meanwhile several creatures attack Eva. Michael gets cornered and captured.

It's all thanks to one of her old foes named Praetorious.

Our heroines meet... and clash as his custom with these sort of crossovers.

They fight an army of werewolves and join a gang of survivors, the Ghosts of Old Detroit!

It was all a plot to bring back Cassie's former dangerous meta-villain, Mary Shelley Lovecraft!!

By studying and using those previous slashers they are able to open a portal and all hell breaks loose!

Will our heroes survive once more to see another day?...

Overall: This was a pretty fun, if kind of standard crossover. It does appear to go through the usual motions but despite the use of a formidable already established foe it does seem to miss that spark of these sort of crossovers.. Perhaps if this had been made into an actual entry of Hack/Slash's on-going series?

Co-published with Dynamite Entertainment, it marks Image's first collaboration with that publisher which would result in a much more anticipated crossover I will only discuss at the bottom of this review.

There's still the usual killing and the artwork is pretty nice overall. Hack/Slash still brings in the goodness, despite not being penned by Seeley for this occasion.

All these characters are well introduced and easy to get in the first few pages.

It's a great fun enjoyable crossover, with plenty of monster mayhem! (a bit lacking in the actual slasher department, despite a lot of them being revived and present near the end..)

Tim Seeley did provide the cover art for the entire mini, presented in a sweet gallery at the end of this trade.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hack/Slash Volume 11 – Marry, F**k, Kill 
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Daniel Lester & Emilio Laiso
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #9-15 of the second Hack/Slash series.

Samhain's "slasher curse" is getting to him.

Meanwhile in the parallel dimension 555, there has been a breakout in the interdimensional prison located on Purgatory. Several highly dangerous women escaped into other dimensions.

Three killing machines arrive from that interdimensional prison, including Bomb Queen (the comic book super-villainess created by Jimmie Robinson).

Vlad is having some troubles physically. It's part what his responsible for his deformities. His bones and cartilage are fusing. And it might be only getting worse.

Bomb Queen arrives in New York City where she starts turning that place into her new home. For some reason, Cassie decides that is her problem as well and go after the villain. On her way she is found out by staff from Purgatory who are seeking her help.

Cat Curio's been watching a lo of silly low budget creature feature B-movies. She really loves them. And, hey, despite the lack of quality these monsters looked fairly impressive for their time.

Cassie brings Sam for help along. They go after the three escaped inmates. Bomb Queen captures Sam and by using his blood, his able to get some of his regenerative powers.

After that Cassie, Samhain and Cat a new adventure takes them over the Caribbean Sea. It turns out all those cheap awful monster pictures have a lot in common. They have been filmed at the same place and with the same cast.

Once their they discover that mysterious island is actually filled with real monsters. They get attacked by zombies, a giant spider and giant gorilla!

This island might provide them with the cure for ex-slasher Samhain!

They search for the secret behind both  this island sole survivors - an immortal actor and the only scientist of that time still alive Doctor Carpenter - and slashers blood.

Cassie is shocked to discover the might have killed her own mother for nothing when she might have been able to cure her....

But at least she did save a slasher's soul... Cassie and Sam bond over the time passed together. Her "first time" is with Samhain, after avoiding sex all this time.

Sadly things take a turn for the worse... Much worse, as Samhain's true purpose and memories are restored!

Cassie might need to get some of Samhain's healing abilities from his slasher blood...

Overall: What a great volume!

Basically, Hack/Slash meets B-movie tropes! Full of old school horror movie references, this time referencing to B-grade black & white monster horror from the early 1930s. And that is after the scifi prison planet from another dimension!

I really enjoyed the whole old school giant monsters arc. Plus the story moved forward regarding to Samhain's plot.

Great dialogues, great art, a perfect trade in my eyes!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hack/Slash Volume 12 – Dark Sides 
Written by various
Art by various
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #16-19 of the second Hack/Slash series and the Hack/Slash vs Mercy Sparx one-shot.

This volume is a bit different, instead of a regular trade by Tim Seeley it contains several stories by different authors.

In "The Good Son", written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Daniel Leister, our heroes go to Chicago to face Vlad's monstrous family. Vlad wasn't feeling any better lately. Cassie follows a lead after catching the sight of a girl, Mari, Vlad used to know. She goes to the home of the Marianthi Agyros. There she fights a monster with a similar appearance to Vlad. Too bad she won't be able to go any further, now that she as crossed the path of the Beanes, "the family" will be looking after her. Cassie discovers the legend of the Beanes, inbred monster where males in the family are cursed to become monsters while the females can revert back and forth to bring in more victims. Yes. They also are cannibal monsters! But Cassie now has some of the black blood in her, and she apparently can withstand a lot more trauma without blinking...

"The case of the Killer and the Questing King", written by dark fantasy author James Lowder with illustrations from Matt Merhoff, follows Intrepid Detective Cat Curio and Pooch on a mystery of their own! The president of B.M.J. Enterprises, responsible for the publication of the Mystery Solver's Catalog comes looking for Cat at Chris and Lisa's. Meanwhile Samhain/Akakios is waking up and regenerating slowly back in the Caribbean island... Cat has to take on a slasher that has been plaguing that famous detective for years, the Catalog Killer!

"Hack/Slash/Repeat" is written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley with art provided Emilio Laiso.  Cassie and Vlad have to put down a slasher that keeps regenerating! They need to either kill it faster or find another way if they don't want it to come back from the dead... it just won't stay dead! The problem is that they've been killing it non-stop, then running from the police and having to track it down all over again! It does tie-in a local legend of witchcraft... Cassie decides they have to capture it instead...!

Finally, in "A Slice of Hell" by writer Josh Blaylock and artist Joe Song, it's yet another crossover this time with Blaylock's very own devil girl Mercy Sparx! Cassie and Mercy Sparx find themselves against each other looking after an artifact! After a fight with an angel-like slasher with a sword on fire they have to do what they usually do. When they need some cash, they have to pawn anything. "Slasher shit" as they put it, demonic swords, whatever. But the devil girl from the underworld hunts rogue angels and they path cross each other. Just when Cassie needed to get a job for some money...

Overall: This was a pretty fun volume, and I'm kind of sad it came so late in the run.

With the Hack/Slash series coming to an end, as originally planned, Tim Seeley gave several authors some liberties to play with his characters. And what followed is a pretty fun read!

Just goes to show how much creativity you can come up with this genre, as long as some rules are observed! Each slasher can bring such a unique different tone and tale.

Cat Curio's story by James Lowder for example was a pretty fun detective story with very little actual horror.

When everything said and done with the genre, they can still manage to find new ways to surprises us!

One of my favorite trades of the entire series. Plus it finally gave us Vlad origins.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hack/Slash Volume 13 – Final 
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Elena Casagrande
Format: Trade Paperback collecting the last issues #20-25 of the second Hack/Slash series.

This is it!

This is the end, the grand finale!

Cassie was fixed with actual slasher blood. Now almost an equal to the things she came to hate.

And Samhain actually is Akakios of Panopolis! The alchemist, the keeper of the Black Flame, the father of all revenants! Now with all his memories intact and restored!

There's no turning back now!

Someone's been targeting people Cassie and Vlad know and learnt to care about, everyone is in danger! Chris, Lisa, Cat and Georgia! All the survivors they've met along the way or helped come through.

With Akakios back in charge of the Black Lamp Society, it's time for the coming of the Murder Messiah!

They plan to use dumb teenagers, at a rock concert, to poison them with the black liquid through sodas. Turning the awkward generation into unstable psychotic slasher killers!

Now it's up to Vlad and Cassie to put a stop to the Black Lamp Society once and for good in a final confrontation. The slasher slayers might be the only ones able to stop them.

This great ending culminates in an epic battle where sacrifices have to be made in this deadly final chapter.

Even Cat Curio gets to face the Murder Messiah.

Only nothing can stop Cassie now...

Not even all these previous slashers collected and resurrected by the Black Lamp. Father Wrath, Grinface, Acid Angel, Doctor Gross and many more... Hack/Slash's rocking a rogue gallery of supernatural slashers!

It all comes together in a great fitting conclusion with a lot of deaths, pain and misery along the way...

Overall: This was such a worthwile final(e)! In one word, epic!

After so many bloody adventures, it's really sad to see this title coming to an end.

Tim Seeley didn't want to stretch this series forever or let it run through other creative hands indefinitely. This was the intended conclusion from the beginning (or at least early on).

It's a monster brawl of epic proportions! The story unfolds naturally and comes to the end always planned.

With beautiful illustrations. Elena Casagrande's art for last final stretch of the series is absolutely perfect! Gorgeous drawings, I only wish they had her stay on-board for far longer or bring her in earlier on...

This volume contains a lot of emotions and rage. The title ends with a savage bang!

Finally, fun notice, it also contains some Hack/Slash Facts (You Maybe Didn’t Already Know) by Tim Seeley. Some fun little tidbits of trivia to close the book.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

And that's it for this series!

Hack/Slash is over...

Tim Seeley had originally planned to make this book with his friend Robert Kirkman. Kirkman would have written the book while he would have then handled art duties... But things took a different turn when a "little success" took Kirkman into other horizons (errr.. The Walking Dead). And it's kinda funny to see how Seeley has grown on his own to become somewhat more of a writer by the end of the book.

If like me you are missing this comic now, fear not! Some little unexpected crossovers Seeley always wanted to see happen have since started publication. And Hack/Slash will come back, post-series conclusion. (the new status quo will be touched upon in those)

First the series will crossover one of Tim Seeley's all-time favorite franchise, Army of Darkness! Another co-publication with Dynamite, crossing both horror/slasher comic book franchises.

Seeley's been working on his new on-going series for a while already. This time the book is more of a Stephen King-ysh sort of horror, it's called Revival and it's already a fairly successful series.

Hack/Slash will have a second post-series crossover with Revival for one very special issue as well.

That's all for this time's Quickies!

No comments:

Post a Comment