Tim Seeley (Writer and Artist), Mark Kidwell (Writer), Emily Stone (Artist), Milen Parvanov, and Courtney Via (Colors)

Hack/Slash, for me, is the ultimate guilty pleasure. It manages to deftly combine a number of my favorite things into one of the most consistently entertaining, visually pleasing comics on the stands. Cassie and Vlad are compelling characters, the extreme gore fits the tone of the series extremely well, sexuality is used intelligently, the humor is spot on (cheesy at times, but in all the right ways), and the stories told are almost always unique enough to make the series stand out. While not necessarily something everyone can or will enjoy (mostly due to the language, gore, and sexuality), this title is something most mature comic fans should at least try out. Horror movie fans: if you haven’t checked out this series yet, it’s time to get on board!

Now with all that said, Hack/Slash #12 is probably not the best way to be introduced to the series. On the other hand, maybe it would be the perfect place to jump on because it functions as a two-part stand alone story that can be read without knowledge of the series. While entertaining and full of moments that can really only be found in a Hack/Slash story, this issue suffers because of the odd way in which the story comes about. Apparently, the story was meant to be released by Fangoria Comics as part of its “Bump” mini-series, but when Fangoria Comics went down, the story of Cassie and Vlad versus Bump was left to linger. Now, after some changes to the length and the story, it has found its way into the Hack/Slash ongoing series. I mention all of this because I can’t help but feel that this issue would have been much better had it not had such a tumultuous trip.

Hack/Slash #12 is the first part of a story about an investigation into the massacre of 32 collegiate environmental activists. Cassie and Vlad show up to the scene and, after running into a famous news anchor and a local policewoman, find themselves in a brawl against some cool looking wooden creatures. The main storyline works well enough, and I look forward to the second part of the arc, but the book stumbles a bit in the way it tries to fit the larger arcs of the series into what probably should have been left as a stand alone story. While it doesn’t damage the book in any major way, it gives the book a disjointed feel. This is unfortunately amplified by some inconsistent artwork.

As usual with this series, most of the dialogue is quite entertaining and there is a nice sense of camaraderie between Cassie and Vlad. Dark humor is used to great effect and while some of the dialogue is cheesy, it fits the story well considering the B-movie trappings. This is a fun read all around. As a side note, keep an eye out for a pair of cult favorites making a hilarious cameo.

The artwork, as noted, is pretty inconsistent and, to be honest, this surprised me quite a bit. The beginning and ending fits with the style commonly used in the ongoing series, while the main story has a completely different visual style. Neither style is bad, but the difference is quite jarring as the characters look completely different depending on the section of the book. On top of that, in the main portion of the comic, Cassie seems to have a slightly different look every couple of panels. This is all quite distracting and I know I would have enjoyed the book more if it had a more consistent look to it. I hope this is just a slight misstep, as the series is usually great to look at. Also, on the more positive side, I want to mention how perfect the gore is. When the blood starts to flow, the artists completely nail the look of an absolutely over the top horror flick and one kill in particular stands out as one of the more brutal things I‘ve seen in a comic.

Hack/Slash #12 is an entertaining and fairly attractive, if inconsistent, comic when taken on its own. However, I have come to expect a bit more out of this series than what is offered here. This issue would have worked better as the stand alone crossover it was meant to be. (Grade: C)

-Kyle Posluszny