Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Comic Review - Hack/Slash Omnibus 1, by Tim Seeley

Just look at how ridiculous and awesome this cover is. This is the kind of cover that I wouldn’t really carry under my arm in public, and in fact, I was a little embarrassed having it on my bedside table. Still, I couldn’t pass this up after finding out about the book’s concept, and while it’s a bit of a hot mess, I’m glad I gave it a try.

Hack/Slash is an Image title that began life as a sporadic indie comic, which chronicles the episodic adventures of Cassandra Hack and her hulking, disfigured companion, Vlad. When Cassie was a teenager, her mother committed suicide after being revealed as a serial killer, only to rise from the grave as a vengeful undead “slasher.” Cassie was forced to put her own mother out of commission a second time, and has roamed the country ever since, seeking out other slashers and ending their respective reigns of terror.

This collection is about as over-the-top as one would expect it to be. I’ve seen other readers lambaste this title for being shallow and tawdry, and I’m forced to wonder what they were expecting when they picked it up. For my part, I got exactly what I thought I would: B-flick plotting, campy dialogue, pointless sexual titillation, and plenty of gore. In short, everything that horror movies used to be. There are even crossover one-shots that star Evil Ernie from the eponymous horror comic and Chucky from the Child’s Play movies, along with additional “movie trailer” shorts, to drive that particular point home. It’s definitely not going to make you think, and could rightly be identified as vulgar or even sexist. But it’s a rough-hewn blend of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Troma film, which does just fine by me.

I did have a problem with this omnibus, though, and it’s bad enough that I almost knocked another point off. The art, generally speaking, is atrocious. As in, occasionally edging past the line of so-bad-it's-endearing, but more often just plain bad. Seeley recruits a number of artists, including himself, to pencil these early Hack/Slash entries. Some of them are decent, but others may as well have been doodling in their textbooks during algebra class. This is less of a problem when there is a single unifying art style, but in the last story of the collection, the artwork literally changes from page to page as different artists take the helm for a few panels. There are a couple of bright spots, most notably the stylized, nightmarish work in the Evil Ernie crossover. However, these are negated by some amateurish and truly ugly panels elsewhere.

All told, though, this was a great junk-food read. I wish things had come together a bit better, story-wise, and I legitimately hated a good portion of the art. I enjoyed the book like I would any of the slasher movies that inspired it, though, and the concept is fun and interesting enough that I will probably pick up the next omnibus. I hope there will be more of a story arc as I get into the run of the continuing comic, but at this point I’d be satisfied with another dose of increasingly weird slashers and unapologetic butt-kicking.

Verdict: 3.5 / 5

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