Hack/ Slash # 23
Story: Tim Seeley; Art: Ross Campbell (“Mad, Mad Mailman”); Art: Mike Dimayuga (“Blood Blower”); Colors: Mark Englert; Letters: Crank!: Production: Sam Wells; Edits: Mike O’Sullivan; Published by DDP
“Cat Curio in case 1012: The Case of the Mad, Mad Mailman”
This issue’s special treat is that it contains a proverbial double feature – two lead stories, and four stories, all told, if one includes the brief back-up strips. This issue also features a new protagonist, Cat Curio, in the very first story, and two new artists to illustrate the double feature. Ross Campbell handles the first strip is captioned: “Frostburg, Maryland. Fourteen Years Ago” and introduces us to Cat Curio, a young babysitter and aspiring Nancy Drew who refers to herself as “Cat Curio, Intrepid Detective”.
Cat encounters the case of a mailman, Robert Wynorski, who came to deliver mail to a sorority house, murdered three girls and proceeded to bludgeon himself to death. Cat finds a strange black spot on his shirt and, in the bushes outside, she discovers a small package that fell out of Wynorski’s mailbag that is seemingly stained with motor oil. The cops come to Cat’s house to ask if she “accidentally” picked up anything at the crime scene. She lies and says she found a pretty rock, perhaps an igneous rock After she rattles on and bores them for awhile, they leave. A female cop thinks she’s hiding something; her partner thinks Cat’s “autistic”.
Cat pretends to go to sleep then breaks out the “BMS Crime Lab Tactical Repelling Harness, product # 1181”, and repels down the wall outside her house with it. Cat thinks the lady detective knows too much about the case and will cover up anything. Cat places the oil box in a flower pot and puts a match to it. It doesn’t burn but is very hot. She then goes to the address on the oil-stained package but is tailed by the suspicious cop who radios someone and gives them a sinister command to stop Cat. Cat climbs up the side of the house the package was intended for and overhears “all hail the great Black Lamp Society”, which should give longtime readers a clue that something not-very-nice is afoot.
Cat falls into the arms of Samhain, the slasher-slayer who we know from past issues was once in the thrall of the Black Lamp Society, and our story comes to a rather cynical end. This story scores points for references to Billy Jack and Arsene Lupin.
“The Blood Blower”
This story introduces artist Mike Dimayuga, and features Cassie, Lisa, and Pooch in Gobles, Michigan on Christmas Day. They are there to take on the “Blood Blower”, a snow blower that’s been snow-blowing innocent puppies to death in the neighborhood. Cassie decides to use pooch as bait, dressing him up as “the world’s ugliest poodle”., and awaiting the new snow when the killings usually happen.
In Eminence, Indiana, Gertrude Hall has cooked Christmas dinner for Vlad, Chris, and Georgia, and she reassures Georgia that Cassie does in fact love Georgia. In Michigan, nothing is happening until Pooch begins singing and prancing about. Lisa and Cassie guess that he could be in heat and that it could be his mating call. Finally, the blood blower begins following Pooch. Cassie saves Pooch and puts an end to the blower, which they guess correctly was remote controlled by a misanthropic puppy-hater. Pooch assures Cassie he no longer regards her as “Most Hated” any longer and resumes his singing.
This issue features my favourite installment thus far of Tim Seeley’s solo strip “Lovebunny & Mr. Hell”, in which the eponymous characters are accosted by the “Fanatic Four”, a pentecostal parody of a certain classic Lee-Kirby comics creation. The four clever characters are: Christian Rock, a Ben Grimm analog; Burning Bush, a Human Torch stand-in; Invisible Chastity Belt, who we can equate (obviously) with the Invisible woman: and their pious leader Plastic Jesus, the born-again counterpart to the stretchy scientist Reed Richards. Mr. Hell chews up Plastic Jesus and starts in on the rest.
This was a satisfying double parody: a send-up of evangelicals and of a latter-day Fantastic Four along the lines of John Byrne’s wretched tenure on that book (the Lee-Kirby originals remain classic in my humble opinion). This full-to-the-brim issue concludes with a two page preview of what is a presumably a new DDP title: “Mimetic Kinetic”, which seems to involve a future where all wars are ideological, carried along by cultural memes, but one man wishes to dial things back to traditional bloodshed to settle things. I may be misreading the themes here; it was only two page, but boasted some very nice Richard Case-meets-Jae Lee artwork.