Friday, May 20, 2011

Comics You Need to Read: Hack/Slash

The Dallas Comic Con is this weekend so I've been trying to brush up on some comics that I've missed over the years.  My relationship with comics goes through a natural ebb and flow.  When I get into them, I get into them hardcore.  But I find this typically only lasts two or three months.  Usually I stop reading because I catch up to the current issue, and by the time I have to wait another month for a new issue I've lost interest completely.

Usually I just stick to Marvel Comics, but for one reason or another I stumbled upon this amazing little comic called Hack/Slash.  Actually I can tell you exactly how I came upon this comic.  I was trying to find out who drew that incredibly sexy image of Princess Leia in the article below this one.  The artist is Josh Howard, who is the man behind Dead @17.  So I went to Amazon to look up some of his stuff, and in the recommended section Hack/Slash popped up, also featuring sexy ladies (of which I am a fan if you couldn't tell) and I looked that up and here we are with me writing an article about it.

The draw for me to Hack/Slash was in it's set up.  The beautiful women are nice, but as I said Dead@17 has that as well, and couldn't pull me in properly.  In Hack/Slash, Cassie Hack is a survivor of her lunatic mother's killing spree.  She then makes it her life goal to seek out other "Slashers" and kill them before they can kill others.

Each story arc of the series has a set up like one might find in any B level Horror film.  One issue starts off with obnoxious kids on Spring Break, and a religious nutbag out to deliver them from temptation.  Another has a murdered child entering dreams and killing people in their sleep.  I think you get the idea.  Even when the set up is a clear refrence to a famous movie series, the book handles it in a unique and clever way, so ground is never tread twice.  The Slashers are essentually zombies, in that they are killed and then brought back to life with their anger, but the book never feels like "just another zombie" story.

Usually I stay away from indie books because the dialog and houmor seems forced, or amaturish at least.  This is an unfair label I know, but in my limited expereince it is what has kept me away from the Indie scene.  However, there is none of this in Hack/Slash as the wit and writing is what makes the book work.  A great premise is nothing if the characters aren't full of life.

Cassie Hack is the main character, and although she might appear as an emo goth chick with a chip on her shoulder, she is amazingly friendly and full of life.  Her past, and her mother, defines who she has become and she is tough as nails, but not once is she afraid to show her caring and compassionate side, and that's what makes her intriguing.  She is also very naive and inexperienced to the ways of the world and normal people, which becomes apparent every time she tries to have a normal relationship with someone.  It is a nice change of pace for that type of character archetype, where so often the main loner badass is great at everything, killing bad guys and making friends.  But the reality is, if someone spends all their time killing zombies with limited human interaction, they might end up a little socially awkward, which is where Cassie resides.

Cassie's only friend is a big Sloth-like (Goonies not Bear) man, named Vlad, that is a take on Jason Voorhees.  He is as gentle as a fly however (except when killing Slashers).  Usually I hate big mindless oafs, but Vlad is much deeper then he appears.  His intelligence might only be limited from him upbringing, and not so much an indicator of smarts.  Some of the best and most humorous moments come from Vlad.  Seeing the big hulking beast of a man sitting in an Internet cafe and ordering a coffee was a highlight for me.

The whole Cassie and Vlad dynamic reminds me a lot of Maxx and Julie Winters from The Maxx.  The Maxx is my favorite comic of all time, so that should be an indicator of my approval.  To be fair, Maxx is a lot more intelligent then Vlad, but they are both equally innocent souls born into the wrong body (or the wrong time period, to quote Sin City).

Also as a big fan of Evil Dead, this series is just my thing.  Over the top violence mixed with lots of great humor and characters.  If you get a chance pick up this book.