HACK/SLASH THE SERIES #6
by Seeley, Pinto & Caselli
A self-contained issue!
The town of Haverhill is populated by the innocent – especially the wholesome, all-American kids at Haverhill High. But the idyllic community is threatened by the return of the holy terror of Father Wrath! Can Cassie and Vlad stop the slasher priest, save the town from corruption and still find a date to the Spirit Dance?! Probably the most off-beat HACK/SLASH story ever!
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist(s): Fernando Pinto, Tim Seeley, Stefano Caselli and Splash!
Publisher Devil's Due Publishing
Hack/Slash has been one of those titles that dare I say, "tickles me the right way." I am not a big fan of horror, I am disgusted by torture porn, and while I think the concept is fun, I am defiantly on zombie overkill. But Hack/Slash is different; the geniuses at Devil's Due have created a great horror concept and thrown in a lot of great elements to make for a compelling and interesting series. There's a great deal of sexual tension between our main characters Cassie and her monster life mate Vlad. There's plenty of gore, plenty of action, great humor, excellent tongue-in-cheek humor and an excellent concept. It's been a while since I've reviewed an issue of Hack/Slash, so for those new to the series, it's essentially Cassie Hack and her pal Vlad going after slashers and serial killers all over the country. For great stories and the history of these two, I highly recommend back issues not only to this series, but the numerous Hack/Slash mini-series' that came before.
This issue is pure gold. Seriously, I love this issue from start to finish. When I first opened it, I saw the Archie style of artwork and I had to do a few double takes. I wasn't sure what was going on but after a few minutes of thinking about it, I realized that I had to read it. Cassie and Vlad are investigating a familiar style of murder, one by a killer they recognize as Father Wrath. Basically, this killer smashed a giant crucifix through the head of an unsuspecting male while he is mid-coitus with a lovely female. Cassie and Vlad, being the great trackers they are, connect the dots and believe Wrath's next hit will be the town of Haverhill.
At this point, the artwork completely changes from the modern comic style to the classic Archie look. I quickly came to the realization that what had me making multiple double takes was absolute genius at work. Essentially, Haverhill is Riverdale and Tim Seeley even offers his variations on Archie and Jughead. I'll be honest, I've read maybe one Archie book my entire life, but I am aware of the general ideas and concepts behind the "Betty and Veronica" dynamic. Our Archie-type character, Tabor, asks two girls to the dance and is unsure how to take them both. Classic Archie. Seeley does an excellent job playing off of this idea, complete with cheesy-yet-sinister dialogue that makes this a very entertaining read. I mean essentially it's Archie with an edge, after all there's an actual wet t-shirt car wash scene.
I absolutely love the dialogue, especially the moment when Cassie asks Vlad, "Is it just me or does everything look kind of weird?" Seeley does a great job of breaking the fourth wall but in a way that doesn't take a reader out of the story. There's plenty of camp and cheese that one would expect from an Archie parody, but the looming terror of Father Wrath keeps this story fully entrenched in the Hack/Slash universe. Of course, throw in Father Wrath's evil scheme and the fact that he gives the Jughead-character, Lincoln, a bag of roofies and you realize that this isn't your grandfather's Archie parody. This even surpasses Kevin Smith's interpretation of Archie from Chasing Amy, the one where, "Archie is the queen of King Jughead's world."
The true gem of this issue comes after one of the girls gets roofied. Lincoln takes her into the locker room and they start going at it in the shower. I know it's a parody, but I don't think I'll ever look at Archie the same again after this. Of course, that is followed up with Father Wrath slamming his crucifix through Lincoln's head. Sheer madness and sickly hilarious. I also love when Vlad confronts Wrath in the locker room. Wrath pulls the classic villain move and goes into a diatribe about his past. It's good, and Seeley keeps it short and sweet as Vlad ends Wrath's existence. The story ends with the continuing build-up of sexual tension between Vlad and Cassie. Brilliance.
The artwork is super. I love what was done in this comic book. It starts and ends with some fantastic artwork but it's the middle that really makes this story memorable. Telling an Archie style story with Archie style art is fantastic especially when you consider what Hack/Slash is all about. Something about this issue just hit every chord with me, it worked so well and it was so intelligently crafted that it really does stand out amongst this week's stack of books. Even if you don't read Hack/Slash, you need to read this issue, it's a great time. This is my Pick of the Week.