Hack/ Slash # 18
“Closer part I”
Story: Tim Seeley; Art: Emily Stone and Mellon; Colors: Mark Englert; Letters: Crank!; Design: Sean K. Dove; Edits: Mike O’Sullivan
In this first installment of a three-part story, “Closer”, Cassie is in a bad place after losing both of her parents yet again in the wake of Re-animator crossover. She decides to retire from slasher-slaying and monster-hunting but wonders where will that leave Vlad. Her soul-searching brings her closer to Georgia, which alienates Vlad. Jealous and insecure, Vlad goes drinking, only to have a bizarre bar brawl with a throng of pastiche superheroes chanting, “Kill. Kill. Kill you”. At the climax of Vlad’s battle, he surreally encounters Evan Dorkin’s characters Milk and Cheese, who Cassie dreamt of in an earlier issue, and who also want to kill Vlad.
Much of this issue focuses on Cassie’s allies Chris Krank, his girlfriend Lisa Elsten, and their pet Pooch. Pooch is a spawn of the evil extradimensional Neflords. Pooch resembles a demonic hairless canine (who possesses the power of speech) and was originally a servant of the Neflords but was befriended by Lisa and Chris and now lives with them. Chris and Lisa are once again drunkenly harassed by Lisa’s stalking ex-boyfriend Kyle, who attempts to lead a police officer to check out Pooch. This only leads to one less cop in Eminence, Indiana (where Lisa and Chris live) and, in a beautiful gesture of karma, one less limb for the unctuous Kyle. This is due to the appearance of a female Neflord (a Neflady?) called Kuma, who is hunting the “Hated Cassandra Hack”.
Cassie, in the meantime, is comforted by Georgia, and puzzles what kind of new life she could lead and what would become of Vlad without here. Their closeness grows into physical intimacy and they begin to make love, even as Vlad arrives home from his time at the bar dreaming of attacks by tenth rate superheroes and talking dairy products. What he overhears happening between Cassie and Georgia only makes him more jealous and alone.
Emily Stone’s art this issue is lively and the newest colourist, Mark Englert, brings a darker, dingier look to the book – something that could undo another book. The heavy grey tones suit the the issue well, however. This issue was marketed with two alternate covers – one by Tim Seeley and Wes Dzioba. The other by Drew Johnson, Paul Wee, and Lizzy John. Sadly, I drew the bad card and ended up with the Drew Johnson et al. cover, which is just too reminiscent to me of the Michael Turner/ Ed Benes school of art, a style that I don’t particularly care for. I know that Cassie has become a comix pin-up icon, but personally I can’t stand the way these gentleman render women.