Hack/Slash stars Cassie Hack, a young woman with a punk rock/goth look who hunts down and kills “slashers” with the help of her monster friend, Vlad. Cassie’s always known what to do when it comes to killing, but what do you do when you become the thing you hate? Major Spoilers takes a look at Hack/Slash #20 and how it deals with that very problem.
Previously in Hack/Slash: Cassie and Vlad tracked a slasher and killed him. Then they had to do it again. And again and again. After getting arrested by the police for killing that very slasher, they were able to escape and take him down for good. But not everything stays dead…
THAT WHICH YOU HATE…AND KILL
After a couple one and done stories by a few different writers, Tim Seeley returns to the characters he created. These are his babies and he knows them in and out and that couldn’t be proven better than in this issue. After interrupting Cassie’s chance at having some casual sex, Vlad argues with her over the nature of their relationship. They soon meet up with Cat Curio who has to discuss some important findings with Cassie. Turns out those findings are that Cassie was healed with “Black Blood” (in the very strange Monster Baiting arc), the substance that makes slashers who they are and allows them to heal. Cassie doesn’t take this information well, attempting to kill herself with dynamite until Vlad comes to her rescue.
As I said, Seeley has a firm handle on these characters and their personalities. Vlad and Cassie are both damaged characters drawn together to create a unique relationship. The issue examines the relationship as Cassie questions its nature. There is love between the two, possibly more on Vlad’s side, and Cassie realizes this by the end of the issue. She also finds out that she has the very thing that creates slashers running through her veins. She’s always been filled with anger and hate but now Cassie doesn’t know the true cause. She breaks down as she realizes that she could become the very thing she hates and kills. It’s heavy stuff and Seeley handles it brilliantly, making an issue consisting entirely of gripping dialogue that’s a real page-turner. By the end, after Vlad stops Cassie from killing herself, both characters have come to grips with what they are and their relationship. All this information is shown to the reader through the character’s actions and not just told. These kinds of interactions make this more than just a horror/action title. It proves that this book can have heart just as much as blood and gore, and that makes it something special.
Elena Casagrande just became one of my new favorite artists. Her work here is amazing and beautiful, done with a technique that sets itself apart from some other comic art. Some drawings, such as close ups, seem to not be inked but rather done with what looks like colored pencil. I don’t know this for a fact, but that’s how it looks to me and I get a painterly vibe to some of the art. This is an issue filled with emotion and Elena conveys all of it perfectly. You can see the anguish on Cassie’s face at the end and the hurt that Vlad feels at the beginning. I actually believe that scenes like this are harder for artists to draw than say action, but Casagrande has no problem here. I really hope she continues to be the artist on this book because her work is wonderful and I’d love to see it month after month.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT JUST FOR HORROR FANS
This isn’t a book just for horror fans. It certainly helps if you like the slasher genre, but I believe it can be enjoyed by anyone. Seeley’s taken a genre and characters that could be one note and given them depth. This issue is proof of that, examining character’s emotions and relationships. Add to it beautiful art and you get something special that should be read every month. If you’re looking for something other than superheroes in tights, try Hack/Slash. I doubt you’ll regret it. Hack/Slash #20 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!