Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hack, Slash

You know how there tends to be one girl left standing at the end of a slasher movie, usually surviving thanks to the virtue of being virginal and somehow capable of besting the slasher at his own game, often with his own weapon. Yeah, that's a survivor girl, aka. a final girl. What, however, happens with a survivor girl when the movie is finished, the killer is dead (temporary as it might be,) and the credits have rolled?

Most cases, the best thing a survivor girl can hope for is laying low and praying that the killer isn't of the vindictive kind, in which case things look grim for you. Heaven forbid actually involving yourself in anything vaugely related to the ordeal you survived. Of course you could do that...

Or, you could do as Cassie Hack, the protagonist of the Devil's Due publishing title, Hack/Slash, and take a slightly more, shall one say, offence-based stance to the whole "supernatural killer"-thing. Cassie didn't have the best of childhoods, as the occupation of killer of serial killers might suggest. Her father abandoned her and her mother, and her mother took upon herself to protect Cassie against the evils of the world, mainly from isolating her from said world and killing everyone who picked on Cassie and serve them as "mystery meat" in the school cantina. When discovered by the authorities thanks to a tip from Cassie, mrs Hack takes the easiest way out and commits suicide by sticking her head in a pot of boiling gravy... yeah.

Of course, this being based on a horror movie, the traumatizing childhood couldn't end there. Y'see, Mrs, Hack didn't settle for being dead, and came back from the grave as a badly charred undead slasher and resumed killing. This time, Cassie had to put down her mother by herself. Now with a backstory like that, how could anyone not be a wholesome all-american girl? Well, trudging down the path to she who fights monsters-land Cassie travels The States, killing the killers who just won't stay down.

On her travels, Cassie encounters and befriends the masked giant Vlad, who despite his imposing appearance, conspiciously similar a slasher design, what with the meat cleavers and all, is a kind and somewhat naive soul. Together, these oddballs fight such meanances as reanimated pets, malicious dream masters, and even a short brush with an unspeakable god-beast and its high priest Elvis (no, really,) all the while overcomming other, more mundae problems like the fiscal challenges of traveling all over the place while not having a job, and the odd nervous breakdown or other angst associated with the not-really-a-job of killing killers.

As you might have been able to glean from the rather long concept synopsis, this is a series I've been following, and if I'm to follow anything, I have to like it, at least a good bit. Quality-wise, H/S had some rather spastic art changes at first, making reading the first volume of the omnibus somewhat less enjoyable than it could be with a stable art style, but considering it was a series of one-shots, I do realize why it's like so. As far as the story and characters goes, H/S does fairly well. I mean, Alan Moore it ain't, but the character manages to invoke a good bit of sympathy. I find it a good thing when horror can keep you interested when there's not a drooling maniac swinging an axe around. Sure, Cassie has a few "WTH, hero?"-moments, but I'm guessing that's intentional, what with her anti-hero vibe.

Now, some of the vilians in this series is just coolsauce. For example, we have the aforementioned evil god(s), or the bible-thumping religious strawman, Father Wrath, who is mentionable alone for the fact that he's one of few slashers who use a blunt weapon rather than the standard sharp thingies. Oh, and not to forget her memorable run-in with Herbert West, the Reanimator of HP. Lovecraft/several B-movies-fame.

Well, that's it on hack/slash, it's a fun read for us horror movie nerds. Beware, though, the fanservice is rather heavy at times.

'till next time

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