I’ve found that when it comes to Hack/Slash your either a fan or your not, nobody really falls in between. Incidentally the same can be said for the Hatchet series of horror films starring everybody’s favorite Jason Voorhees knock off Victor Crowley. Now whereas I am very much a fan of Hack/Slash, I have always been a bit lukewarm towards Hatchet. Still, when I heard that both of these decisive titles in the world of horror were going to be occupying the same thirty six pages of sequential splatter action I knew I had to check it out.
For the uninitiated, Hack/Slash focuses on the exploits of Cassie Hack, a slasher of slashers, who travels around the country in a Hearst handing out beatings with the help of her pal Vlad (another Jason Voorhees knock off with better disposition. MACHETES FOR EVERYBODY!). The Hatchet films star center around the aforementioned Victor Crowley, who was a deformed citizen of Louisiana who lived peacefully with his father until a local prank went horribly awry and Victor was accidentally killed. Now he haunts the swamp, killing anyone who wanders in and usually in the most horrific manner possible. The plot within the pages of this annual is your general slasher fare, several young millionaires go missing and Cassie and Vlad go on the case to track them down. Inevitably they come into contact with Victor Crowley and the slasher smack down commences.
It should be noted that this annual is not written by regular Hack/Slash scribe Tim Seely, instead its written by Benito Cereno (who we have established I am a fan of.) To his credit the man knows how to construct a slasher story, especially one that uses unified elements from both Hack/Slash and Hatchet. Anything you could want from these characters you get within this book; whether it be Cassie and Vlad bouncing off one another or Victor Crowley making his way through various disposable teenagers in increasingly disturbing ways. Now that being said, the plot itself can be pretty formulaic. The setting is pretty interesting, or to be specific how the setting comes to our protagonists is pretty interesting, but like the slasher movies that these two property’s thrive upon, you can kind of tell when every twist of the knife is going to come.
Ariel Zucker-Brull has a pretty interesting style. When I first looked this book over I can say with some certainty that I kind of hated it, but I’m glad I went over it a few more times because eventually my initial opinion reversed. I don’t know if his style will ever become one of my favorites, but it definitely came to impress me over multiple readings. There’s a scene right at the beginning of the book where a swamp tour boat operator recounts the legend of Victor Crowley, and the way Zucker-Brull constructs this minor character is fairly terrifying as he comes off looking like a crooked prophet of doom. When Victor Crowley eventually pops up you get the message, he looks like a pit bull straight out of the gates of hell and for a horror comic that is a very good thing.
Now like most things in the horror genre, your mileage may vary on how much you enjoy this book. If you like horror movies, especially that of the slasher genre, you are in for a good time, but this book is not going to make a casual reader into a fan of either of these properties. It might not necessarily turn them off either, but its a crap shoot to be sure. The book is perfectly competent in every aspect of its construction but it never transcends the sum of its parts.
- Good Character Moments
- Well Crafted Slasher Story
- Art Works Really Well For a Horror Story
- Plots a Bit Formulaic
- Your Mileage May Vary Depending on How Much You Enjoy Horror