siegeperilous02 (siegeperilous02) wrote,
siegeperilous02
siegeperilous02

Hack/Slash: Buffy comics done right!

So, I gave up on the official canon BtVS/Angel comics a long while ago due to arc fatigue and what the fuck space frakking, but that didn't really quell my interest in getting more stories with that old fashioned Buffyverse-feel. And luckily, a few years ago, I stumbled upon a little Indy comic that filled the void left in Buffy's absence: Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash!

                                               

Guys, I cannot stress enough how much I LOVE this series. It may just be my favorite title on the stands right now, and it easily eclipses the actual canonical Buffy/Angel comics in quality. The basic plot is rooted in the standard tropes of the slasher horror films that were so prominent in the late 1970's and throughout the 80's: Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc. One of the most popular story beats in a lot of those films were that all the kids would be killed off in increasingly gruesome ways, until there was only one left, usually always a girl. She would either vanquish the threat, merely survive it, or just live longer than the rest. Nevertheless, it happened often enough that the term "Final Girl" was coined.

The Final Girl in this series is Cassie Hack, who has the misfortune of being the daughter of serial killer Delilah Hack. Delilah, the lunch lady for Cassie's school, had the habit of killing the kids who bullied her daughter, dicing up the corpses and serving them for lunch. Eventually, she was found out and committed suicide to avoid capture, but that wasn't the last the world would see of old Delilah. She eventually rose from the grave as a supernatural monstrosity called a "Slasher" (or "Revenant") to pick up where she left off. Cassie would eventually kill her mother all over again after another rampage, and decides to channel her confusion and rage at her situation by hunting down and killing other Slashers and protecting their victims.

                                                 

Accompanying her is Vlad, a knife wielding behemoth with the heart the size of the whole universe. Vlad is basically a deconstruction of the Jason Voorhees archetype, an outcast who wears a mask to hide his hideous visage as he slices and dices with his big ass knives. The difference is that he hacks away at Slashers instead of the victims.

The series depicts Cassie and Vlad driving all across the States, finding Slashers and putting them in the ground before they can harm anyone else, all as Cassie struggles with the idea that her rage might lead her down a similar path as her mother. Along the way, they meet a host of interesting allies and ghoulish villains (many of whom, true to form, come back for a "sequel"), One of whom fits into both categories, and happens to be a pretty obvious expy for a certain broody vampire with a soul.

                                                       

That right there is Samhain, the "Jack O' Lantern killer," who happens to be a Slasher trying to fight his serial killer urges and whom Cassie ends up falling for. And I don't feel bad spoiling the fact that Cassie sleeps with him and he turns full blown evil soon afterwards. Sound at all familiar? Oddly enough, author Tim Seeley has claimed he's never watched an episode of Buffy or Angel before writing the series, and was genuinely surprised when fans informed him of the similarities with the infamous season 2 storyline. Considering how upfront he seems to be with the influences that inspire this series and his other comic work, I'm inclined to believe him. Still, the story beats are almost dead on, though it doesn't bother me too much. Cassie's "romance" with Samhain seems to be intentionally shallow, as she is escaping into him to avoid two other, way more complicated romances that she is afraid of committing to (and I won't be spoiling those, for any who are interested in picking this up). Despite what some from the anit-crowd will say, I never viewed Bangel as shallow, and it is without doubt the driving force behind the seasons it appears in (and, arguably, beyond). In this series, the most important relationship is the platonic one Cassie shares with Vlad, and Samhain seems a deliberate distraction from that rather than becoming the leading man, as Angel was to Buffy.


It should also be warned that this series borrows a lot of elements from the Slasher genre that may turn people off at first glance: namely, lots of "Tits and Gore." The series has a lot of male gaze-y fanservice, which, hey, I'm not complaining, but I can certainly see why some, especially female readers, would be turned off. But the majority of the artists who work on the series draw the women with more realistic body proportions than can be found in most mainstream comic books, and despite what the covers may imply, it has a variety of female characters with different body types and ages (including one really kickass middle aged rock-and-roll groupie). We don't see many intimidating, beefy women like Delilah Hack in most comics.

It also gained a cult following among the LGBT community for it's really well done portrayal of a romance between two girls, and even has a romance between an Asian man and a white woman! How sad is it that we are in 2014, and both those things are pretty damn rare?

So if you're like me, and are growing weary with Dark Horse's Buffy output, but are craving more of the old school Buffy-goodness (or the next best thing), Tim Seeley's entire run is available in affordable trade paperbacks. If that proves too intimating, a continuation written by Tim's brother, Steve Seeley, and co-author Michael Moreci, just hit the stands with a new #1, which will provide a great jumping on point for new readers.

Rock on, Cassie!
Tags: buffy the vampire slayer, cassie hack, comics, hack/slash
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