Hack Slash #20

hack_slash_20_by_theirison3There are some comics which you pay above the standard $2.99 cover price and you feel ripped off, but that never happens to me with Hack/Slash. I don’t mind paying $3.50 for a quality read. As a matter of fact, this weird, quirky little horror title from Devil’s Due has been truly excellent of late and writer Tim Seeley ups the ante with this issue as some of the sub plots which have been floating around for quite some time are finally addressed. For example, even though the psychic Mrs. Jaworski makes a brief appearance, she’s been around for a while now and her influence is a having a catastrophic effect on our protagonists.

Of particular interest is the strain Cassie’s relationship with Margaret is having on her partnership with Vlad. One can’t help but feel bad for the big monster as he thinks that he is being replaced by Cassie’s decision to stop going after the slashers and to attempt a semblance of a normal life. Cassie is oblivious to what Vlad has been experiencing and it’s touching to see Cassie reach out to him when she is in trouble, as usual.

The nature of Cassie’s troubles with the authorities has been established in previous issues. She’s wanted as a suspect in a multiple homicide case as a direct result of the carnage which went down in her previous adventures and Mrs. Jaworski supplying the police with leads about her.

Seeley blends all the plot points of the book seamlessly and manages to spotlight Vlad’s frustrations while crafting a story rich in intrigue and characterization.

Things get sufficiently weird (which for this title is the status quo) when Cassie is taken from police custody by the society of the black lamp, a cultish group of Slashers who drug her up and tie her up for their own freakish mechanizations. I haven’t even mentioned the otherworldly invaders from the Nerf dimension which have been running around since last issue. “Pooch” is always good for comic relief and it is a relief that he survived last issue’s attack.

Seeley is so in tune with his main character that he makes her strengths stand out during the abduction. Despite being incapacitated by drugs, Cassie is a survivor and she tries to think and fight her way out of every situation. She’s familiar with the nuanced idiosyncrasies of slashers. The comic ends in a fantastic cliffhanger which has me already salivating for the next installment.

Stylistically, this book always has a distinct look to it and artist Kevin Mellon seems to fit in with previous Hack/Slash artists such as Emily Stone, delivering not only on big panel action sequences but also on the facial expressions of the protagonists: Cassie’s look when she says she had other things on her mind while talking to the inmates in the jail cell is beautifully rendered, her troubles on display for the reader to absorb. Likewise, he makes you really feel for Vlad, as the big lug is feeling confused over Cassie’s relationship with Margaret.

Mellon also rendered the lesbian love scene last issue between Margaret and Cassie with the tenderness, respect and love both characters truly feel for each other, without it looking like a salacious, exploitative gimmick to hook in the predominant male readership. Having laid the groundwork, he continues by drawing some powerful scenes between Margaret and Vlad and then transitions into the comic’s big climax.

 Final word: This may not be a new reader friendly book in terms of where the pooch from the Nerf dimension and some of the other monsters and slashers running around fit in the current story arc, but as usual, readers can pick up the trades to catch up because I have a feeling that Seeley and company are just getting started and this comic is always highly entertaining.

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