Created by Tim Seeley
For the past week and a half I’ve been relatively immobilized by minor surgery. It has been a pain in the ass, quite literally as that is where a doctor created the Mariana Trench out of my flesh, but one of the advantages of being couch bound is I get to catch up on things I haven’t had the time for. Like reading every single issue of an often brilliant comic series about Cassie Hack, the daughter of a serial slasher who dedicates her life to tracking down and offing other slashers with the aid of a gentle brute named Vlad.
The series, created in 2004 by Tim Seeley for Devil’s Due Productions, is a perfect companion for any fan of the weapon wielding crazies of the ’80s. The scenarios Seeley places Cassie in are simultaneously a send up of and praise to damn near every manner of slasher film, good and bad. Anyone who has ever walked out of a video store with a giant VHS clamshell case equipped with a killer’s self-describing title and ludicrous cover art owes it to themselves to read "HACK/Slash".
I do not think I am exaggerating in the least when I say Tim Seeley’s creation is the best thing to happen to the slasher film since the end of that Golden Aged decade. I say this not even as that much of a comic fan (this is the first comic I’ve read that wasn’t a standalone ‘graphic novel’), but wholly as a genre fan. The potential for an endless supply of great setups and even greater stories is immediately apparent. Rogue Pictures is currently at work on the first live action film of the property and, honestly, I wish they weren’t. I want to see it with real people on real sets, but I wish it were as an ongoing series of hour longs. "HACK/Slash" actually has too much potential, too many different slashers to blast and too many villains to keep bringing back from the grave to be contained in a single movie or even a few sequels. This premise is just begging for an ongoing TV show on Showtime or HBO.
But I digress. Onto the actual comics themselves, of which there are, about, 14 issues thus far. I’m not going to review every single issue, rather create a sample of the series as a whole.
The property opens with "Euthanized" which introduces our heroine as the daughter of the Lunch Lady serial killer. When Cassie was the ugly duckling of school her mother, the head of the cafeteria, got tired of all the other students teasing her beloved, so mother started to pick off the bullies one by one. She’d dispose of the bodies by grinding them up and feeding them to all of the other students. Eventually she was caught, but before the police could make the arrest, momma Hack shoved her head into a pot of boiling gravy. It doesn’t take long, however, before girls start disappearing at Cassandra’s new school at the hands of the now undead Lunch Lady. Cassie, out of dual parts obligation and hatred, tracks her mother down and kills her once and for all. And thus begins her life of hunting and killing all slashers she can find.
Cassie and Vlad, a hulking man she thought to be a killer, but is really just a freak abandoned at birth, move from town to town, keeping their eye on the news for strings of grizzly murders. Whenever they find one they move in, profile the case and try to determine whodunit. Each issue will introduce a new setting, a new style of killings and new characters for the mystery of who the killer is. The way things play out is a carbon copy of how things play out in every slasher you have ever seen. And I do not mean that in any kind of a negative way. The twists, the unmasking of the killer, the revelation of motives; they all unfold in that classic, time-perfected Dead Teenager Movie style we all love in our hearts.
The villains themselves are familiar enough to generate laughs and expectations, but unique enough to keep things interesting. "Euthanized" finds the duo up against a Vet’s assistant who rises from the grave with an army of zombie pets after accidentally being killed in the building’s gas chamber. "Girls Gone Dead" places Hack right in the middle of a wild spring break party where fun-loving teens are being murdered by a priest for their sinful behavior. There is even a cross-over any horror fan will get an extreme kick out of, the self explanatory "HACK/Slash vs. Chucky".
I found myself chuckling throughout every issue, but I was actually steadily laughing out loud at segments of "Trailers", an issue consisting only of pages written as various trailers for a wide spectrum of slasher scenarios, each panel perfectly mimicking countless real trailers. Particularly Tub Club about murders of swim team members on the campus of an all-girls college. Another about the Government sending Cassie and Vlad into space to stop a killer would have fit in seamlessly with the fake trailers portion of Grindhouse.
The majority of issues so far are one-shots, which I’ve learned is comic trade talk for plots confined to a single issue, but in May of 2007 the property took to series. I, admittedly, prefer the earlier stand-alones as they are the most direct in their love for both the style and heart of the ’80s slasher, but the ongoing story still works. The art style varies from issue to issue, some more appealing than others. Consistently, though, the series is packed with blood and oozes sexuality, as any good Dead Teenager Movie should be.
If one were dedicated enough, individual copies of each issue could be found, but for the lazier there are those great compilations called Trade Paperbacks. Volume 1: First Cut contains "Euthanized", "Girls Gone Dead" (both fantastic) and "Comic Book Carnage". Volume 2: Death by Sequel packs in "The Land of Lost Toys" (a three parter), "Trailers", "Slice Hard Prequel" and "Slice Hard". Available on October 15th, Volume 3: Friday the 31st, I believe contains "HACK/Slash vs Chucky" and every issue of the ongoing series to date (which so far has been mainly about the lead singer of a metal band who sold his soul to the devil and most now sacrifice virgins to please his overlords).
I vote obtain all three, but if I had to pick favorites they’d be found in Volume 1: First Cut. If you can think of something that better supplements the absence of ’80s slashers than all the imagination of this series, I would love to hear about it. For now, though, I am damn glad I came across Tim Seeley’s work. I think it a perfect fit for the genre that any fan will dig. Guess I will have to keep dreaming about seeing it as an episodic TV show, though…