Tuesday, June 10, 2014



Hurrr... familiar with Hack/Slash, yes?

Here's the tale of Vlad, the nicest guy you'll ever find in a slasher...

Comic title: HACK/SLASH: Me Without You 
Art by Daniel Leister
Story by Tim Seeley 

Published by Image Comics
From 2011
Lineup HACK/SLASH series
Format: One-shot special issue Hack/Slash: Me Without You #1.

Created by artist-turned-writer Tim Seeley, Hack/Slash is a love letter to 1980s slasher films.

It turns all the usual tropes and clichés of the genre on their own head, following the slasher survivor Cassie Hack has she tracks these undead monsters and put them back in their own graves, for good, one after the other all over the country.

Tim Seeley originally only planned to draw the story while his friend Robert Kirkman would have plotted the series. But an unexpected huge success (*cough*The Walking Dead) took them by surprise, forcing Seeley to write the series by himself.. and slowly become more of a writer while he had several illustrators taking art duties over the original course of the series at Devil's Due Publications.

In 2010, Seeley was forced to move away to another publisher. DDP had some financial problems and they delayed their paychecks, most of their staff went unpaid for months. Tim Seeley couldn't afford to pay his artists and colorists anymore. So instead of simply shutting down his own series, he was able to move to Image Comics, retaining his rights on Hack/Slash, and simply left his long-time previous editor. Issue #32 of the original Hack/Slash series was the last issue at DDP.

And while most would take this opportunity to reboot or retool their series, Tim Seeley decided to offer a "Year One" mini-series of sorts in the form of this Hack/Slash: My First Maniac. A new on-going series would jump back where the original series left us afterwards.

Hack/Slash: Me Without You was a sort of companion book following My First Maniac shortly after.

Since My First Maniac focused on the origin of Cassie Hack, Me Without You would be used by Tim Seeley to finally explore the origins of Vlad before Hack/Slash as well.

Vlad, Cassie's monstrous sidekick/partner.

Only instead of giving us another mini-series, Image Comics released it as simply a 28-page long one-shot in 2011.

Like the previous origin story, this one was also illustrated by Daniel Leister.

The story of Vlad the "Meat Man" begins shortly after he was born.

It's a sad tragic origin story.

As a baby, Vlad had to be abandoned by his parents, who were being tracked by some mysterious shady people. It seems the couple was on the run, trying to escape their own past....

Turns out that wherever he originally came from is the reason why he was such a disfigured figure already at that young age.

Hunted until their last breath, the mother was forced to ditch baby Vlad in a trashcan... only to be found by the local butcher, an immigrant with a kind heart.

The Butcher did his best to raise him as a son, into a good person as well. But Vlad had to be hidden from the world, which he wasn't much fond of anyway. Vlad had some trouble breathing anyway, that is why the Butcher allowed him to use a gas mask to filter the air outside.

The butcher man named him after "Vlad Dracul" (aka Dracula), since he was covered in bloody when he found him as a kid.

Vlad principal hobby had been reading the various comic books and National Geographic he could get his hands on in the Butcher's basement.

As time caught up on Vlad, the Butcher finally passed away. Food started running out. It was time for Vlad to venture outside if he wanted to survive.

He wasn't much familiar with the outside world, besides what he knew from the funny papers. But Vlad had at least to bury the hold man at the local cemetery. Putting on the giant gas mask on, he ended up meeting this attractive lady named Mari. At first afraid by Vlad's imposing figure, Vlad proved himself a friendly soul as he saved her from some kind of stalker.

She was apparently in some kind of trouble herself. So Vlad would be her bodyguard for a while.

But it turned out those same people after her where in fact more interested in this new bodyguard of hers... Apparently they were Vlad's long-lost relatives!!

Me Without You explores where Vlad originally came from. Despite leaving some mysteries regarding his appearance and this Beane family, we do still learn how he grew up and what his first days outside the Butcher's cave was like.

Also exploring his tendency to offer himself as a bodyguard. Finally exploring his first days prior to this original mysterious introduction back in the original first series.

The beloved character all Hack/Slash fans love is as important and an integral part of the series as Cassie herself.

Vlad seems to come from some kind of monstrous mobster family.

Seeley took this occasion to introduce future angles to be explored in later storylines. The Bean family would be explored in a much later arc following their introduction here (namely Hack/Slash Volume 12 – Dark Sides).

By himself, Vlad is a fun protagonist. He tries to stay optimistic no matter what.

He's had a sad life, but would grew up to be this protective figure. We also get to see some of Vlad's trademark humor.

It's a great character-driven story. Everyone's favorite slasher sidekick get his chance at the spotlight, I'm just sad he was given a proper mini-series as in "My First Maniac". We also get to understand the urban legend of the "Meat Man" haunting Chicago. Vlad's kinda lonely through this story.

After having tried to help a girl in trouble he would go on to live by himself. The ending ties directly into the beginning of the series, Cassie's first encounter with Vlad, and the ending of My First Maniac as well. It's well written and cleverly established into the mythos of the series, explaining background elements.

Leister's art pretty effective and by now a staple of the series. Great work, although there's still some slightly awkward expressions here and there.

Finally this has never been collected as part of the series reprints, thus far. It's only available as a one-shot issue. There are two alternate covers, one by regular artist and Me Without You-artist Daniel Leister and another lovely one by the immensely talented Ross Campbell.

Overall, HACK/SLASH Me Without You is a pretty good comic.

Vlad is such a sympathetic character and Seeley is a great writer, he makes this simple origin tale of Vlad into a smart and original enough story.

I liked how the ending was tied into Cassie's own origin story.

It's a pretty good tale, too bad it was just only a one-shot and so short. I think it could have probably worked better as a 3-issue limited series with better pacing... Oh, well.

Recommended for any fans of the series, working as well as a great entry point on the universe of Hack/Slash on Vlad's side.

I give it:

  2.5 / 3 ManThings!

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