Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I like Hack & Slash

Why I like Hack & Slash

1) There are a lot of comics out there that think beating up monsters equals horror. The medium has been dominated by superhero books for so long that most people think of comics as fight books, with battles breaking out every few pages. While the stories are often exciting, they're action stories rather than horror stories, with the monsters replacing criminals and supervillains. Hack & Slash is a fight book that uses the tropes of slasher fiction as the basis for it's over-the-top battles.   

2) In Hack & Slash, movie slashers are a type of undead monster that come back from the grave to fulfill their twisted need for revenge. The energy that resurrects them is puritanical in nature, despising youth and sex, and the resurrected slashers target young sexy people on their way to finish their mission. It's an effective way to tie up all the slasher movie cliches into one coherent mythology.

3) Cassie Hack is a survivor of a slasher movie massacre, where her undead mother went on a rampage and slaughtered the kids who tormented her daughter. Cassie barely escaped with her life, and the experience scarred her. She started dressing like a Suicide Girl and crossed the country hunting slashers. Eventually she met up with Vlad, a massive deformed man who breathes through a respirator that looks suspiciously like Jason's hockey mask. Together, they battle slashers all around the world. 

4) I like that Cassie and Vlad's quest feels a lot like Sam and Dean Winchester's hunting efforts from Supernatural. They live out of their van, scrape money together doing odd jobs off of Craigslist, and search the news for further evidence of slasher activity. Heroism on a budget is always appealing, but the economic troubles that Cassie and Vlad go through come are much more prominent in the storyline. 

5) The social dynamic between Cassie and Vlad is really interesting. Vlad deeply loves Cassie, but Cassie has been wrestling with her sexuality. Fighting monsters that target sexually active people will put a whammy on a person's sex drive, and it doesn't help that Vlad looks like a monster. It makes their interactions bittersweet and sad, especially when tragedy strikes their ranks. 

6) Cassie Hack is a well-developed character. While the art tends toward too much fan service, she comes off as believably damaged. She reminded me a lot of Laurie Strode from Halloween H20, someone who's barely holding together but can bring down the fire of wrath if need be. 

7) Most of the stories, especially the early issues, are fun little slasher tales that hearken back to the genre's heyday. Creator Tim Seeley really knows his stuff, and the book is full of in-jokes that recall specific movies. As the book continued, slashers like Evil Ernie, Chuckie, and the legendary Re-Animator Herbert West made appearances. It helped tie the series to it's cinematic roots while serving as a homage to one of the most entertaining subgenres in horror. 

Conclusion: Not all parts of Hack & Slash work. Towards the end of the run the book got bogged down in it's own mythology and started deviating from the original ideas while keeping the characters static. But for the first few collections the series was one of the most interesting, engaging takes on slasher film stereotypes.  


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