“HACK/SLASH: SON OF SAMHAIN #1″ (Comic Review)
Horror is full of tropes. Established ideas and worn-out scenarios plague the genre so much that so that spoofs and parody are just as common. Running for a solid decade, HACK/SLASH has been a long time favorite for readers who are bit burned out on the repetitive nature of the entertainment of fear. Despite the comic becoming a more serious affair of late—introducing a running story-line and romantic interests for the lead—it still remains fairly tongue-in-cheek, filled with eighties monsters and scantily dressed ladies.
With new writers taking over after original creator, Tim Seeley, bowed out, HACK/SLASH: SON OF SAMHAIN sees the newest incantation kick off with a heartbroken Cassie swearing off monster hunting forever. Chasing human bounties around the country, she follows one suspect to his trailer park only to find him already gift wrapped for her. Enter Delroy, a tough-talkin’, scar-faced, old man who’s looking for a partner to take out the biggest threat to human kind since the common cold: Attan-Soolu, The Monster God. With an army of warriors at his bidding, Attan-Soolu has risen from the grave that he was put in millennias ago and he’s hungry for human blood. As Delroy drags a very reluctant Cassie around the Texas desert, forces collide, including the recently risen undead, a plague of worms that can possess the living, and a strange, little boy with a penchant for killing people when he’s scared.
Following Seeley’s departure, HACK/SLASH went on brief hiatus before writing team Steve Seeley and Michael Moreci came aboard. Having previously worked together on HOAX HUNTERS, these two are no strangers to creating spooky tales and manage to carry over the lore of Cassie Hack was perfectly into the new story. They continue her ups and downs, making frequent reference to her previous life as a monster hunter and relationship with girlfriend Georgia. For anyone who’s been a long time reader and is invested in Cassie’s life, they manage to keep the same feeling of isolation and loneliness that she’s harbored throughout the entire series. With the addition of Delroy, she now has an emotional wall to bounce off of, creating a great back and forth dialogue between the two as they massacre their way through legions of creatures.
One of the more noticeable drawbacks however, is the unoriginality of the monsters themselves. Though HACK/SLASH’s basic existence is poking fun at horror stereotypes, with the more serious nature of the comic lately, it would’ve been refreshing to see a little more creativity put into their design. The creatures come off as standard fantasy characters, complete with Tolkien style pointed ears, squat bodies, and smooshed ogre faces, and is a really odd contrast to the overall horror theme. Perhaps as the series progresses, such stylistic choices will be answered; a simple beginning of a Hobbit kitsch that has yet to be addressed by the second issue, but as of now, it comes off quite garish.
The art has its share of high and lowlights as well. Drawn by Emilio Laiso, his human forms and smooth movement play well with the story and gives each character their own personality. He doesn’t shy away from creating the new Cassie Hack—a woman with a tad more clothes but a bit less roughness around the edges—while helping envision the new monster-filled world for her to play in. Unfortunately, both the shadowing and a good chunk of the background detail are created with heavy, splotchy effects that fail to mix well with the foreground work. They would appear to be two different styles forced together (yet separately, would work pretty well). Though it’s understandable the shadows would be so unconventionally dark, considering that the story is set primarily at night or underground, it simply doesn’t blend with Laiso’s thinly lined work.
Despite such, HACK/SLASH: SON OF SAMHAIN is still a worthy addition to the series. If and when Tim Seeley returns, he will have a solid launch pad to start from.