Hack/Slash: Comic Book Carnage (Comic Book)
Written by Tim Seeley
Published by Devil's Due
Horror teaches us grim, sometimes harsh, lessons. Don't investigate strange noises. Avoid picking up hitchhikers. Menstruation's bad. And, sequels get sloppier the higher in number they go. Look no further than the slasher category for this verity. Michael Myers? He became the bitch of some cult in the Halloween franchise. And Voorhees? Reduced to infancy in a pool of sludge beneath the streets of New York; and two movies later was thrown into space! What?! The same rule applies to horror comics too. That's right, they're not immune to the curse, kiddo. I won't name names, but with so many horror titles out there you can throw an axe and easily hit one series that's on the decline.
Hack/Slash, I'll tell ya, ain't one of those titles.
Entering its third 48-page special (after far too long a wait and Girls Gone Dead), Hack/Slash: Comic Book Carnage is sloppy. In fact, it's probably the sloppiest Cassie Hack adventure we've seen from Tim Seeley since his slasher-huntin' gal made her introduction to horror fans in Euthanized - it's sloppy in the grue quotient not quality, of course, with hacked heads, fiendish imps and dead comic book celebrities galore! And we all love them fiendish imps, right? This time Cassie and Vlad are drawn to the Whizzer World Con in Philadelphia where the founders of Young Buck Entertainment (?!) – Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Skottie Young (Venom), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Messy Stench (MessyStench.com) – are in the process of relaunching an old pulp superhero with a darker edge. Fanboys being fanboys, not everyone's too hip to the idea. The body count begins with Niles' demise ala Janet Leigh, but can Cassie stop his killer before each member of the Young Buck team fall under the knife?
Any time you get a writer (and this is no groundbreaking revelation) setting his or her story in a world he or she truly knows, there's nothing but great results to be had. Seeley has a ball pushing his heroine through the geek scene, an environment he – and I'm sure all of us – is probably familiar with all too well. The convention circuit is one that invites all sorts of freaks to come along for a ride, and in Comic Book Carnage you literally get an introduction to them all, from the 30 Days of Night-quoting Internet fiend to those lonely fellas out there who need to have a snapshot taken of them with every hot chick who wouldn't normally give them the time of day if they weren't getting paid to be there. Cassie's reactions to her surroundings are priceless and Seeley sheds another layer of the innocently simple, but curiously complex, mind of Vlad as we witness the lovable brute connecting with Kirkman over some childhood similarities. In-jokes, homages and other sight gags pack each page (Cassie's Death By Boobjob 2 viewing experience breakdown is a good 'un) not leaving us much breathing room to gain heavy insight into the minds of our leads. When the moments come – whether it's when Cassie's in the tub (ahem, thank you) or after she's almost being strangled by entrails – they're often bittersweet and reflective enough to keep us satisfied until the next issue.
It goes without saying that Federica Manfredi – who cut her teeth on Hack/Slash in Girls Gone Dead – continues to make my jaw drop in the art department. Her strength lies in the eyes; she's also pretty damn fine at making the blood spill, which there is a lot of and will appease the gorehounds. I get the feeling, though, we're in for a freakin' massacre when Evil Ernie and Cassie cross paths in June.
If you haven't discovered Hack/Slash yet, there's no stranger, more hilarious, more macabre place to start than with Comic Book Carnage (other than busting your ass to get the first two issues). It's a sequel worthy of attention and we all know in this genre that's a rarity and an achievement in and of itself.
4 1/2 out of 5