Tim Seeley’s horror movie homage Hack/Slash (read over 40 Hack/Slash digital comics online, or on your iPhone/iPad) has grown rapidly, since its debut in 2004, from curiosity to cult hit to contender, with its move from Devil’s Due to Image, a stage play, and film in the works with Megan Fox reportedly covetous of the lead role. But with horror comics’ heyday so deep in the distance, what makes this title special enough to succeed on this level? The story centers on suburban high school nobody Cassandra Hack, whose life goes from bad to worse when her overprotective mother serial kills Cassie’s bullying classmates – and after death, her murderous maternal instincts bring her back from the grave to finish the job. Being your basic good girl, Cassie puts her mom back in the grave, and goes on the lam stalking a series of slasher film-worthy bad guys from state to state. Cassie’s world is a carefully engineered conglomeration of clichés native to the horror films Seeley obviously loves; fatness and ugliness are invariably sings of inner evil, every living female under 50 walks around nearly naked regardless of city and season, and the stringent social mores of the small towns are violently reinforced by the teen-eating demons that haunt them. It is all fairly familiar territory, despite the geysers of gore and the exuberantly elaborate kills, lovingly rendered by Seeley himself.
Among the most obvious hallmarks of horror filmdom here is the selection of a heroine rather than a hero. Horror is one of the few male-targeted genres that routinely favors a female survivor – usually a sole survivor, the so-called “final girl”. This girl usually lives to see the light of day, as in the case of HALLOWEEN’s Jamie Lee Curtis, by virtue of, er, her virtue, while her vivacious, self-possessed, sex-conscious friends die screaming. This is the one unworn path that Hack/Slash travels, and this is possibly the key to its appeal; that Cassie Hack is a brainy, bespectacled badass is unremarkable. It’s that she’s a sexually provocative, heavily made-up, fishnet-clad teenage girl — a Suicide Girl even — whose transgressions go unpunished. That alone is somewhat revolutionary, without even mentioning the fact that she triumphs over evil with a talent for murder that routinely outstrips the killers she hunts. True, Cassie is also a declared virgin, so she has a ways to go before achieving full-on liberation, but she’s still a step ahead of deliberately dowdy Jamie Lee and company. In the case that the reader’s curiosity is peaked, it’s time for a little shameless self-promotion. Hack/Slash’s adoption by Image has necessitated a jumping-on point for new followers, and Cassie’s first adventure has been reprinted in the miniseries My First Maniac. If you are one of the unlucky folks who missed these issues in print, watch the ComiXology app for My First Maniac’s digital edition, coming soon to your mobile device.
Tagged: Devil's Due Press · Hack/Slash · Image · Megan Fox · Ross Campbell · Tim Seeley
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