By Tim Seeley (Writer), Bryan Baugh (Art), and Mark Englert (Colors)

The Story: A slasher from Cassie’s and Vlad’s past is back. But the Mosaic Man’s return is actually a trap set by someone looking for revenge.

What’s Good: Hack/Slash #26 takes the series back to its roots in some ways. By having Cassie and Vlad track one of the killers that’s responsible for starting it all, Tim Seeley does a fine job of looking to the past while moving the series forward a bit. While the predictable Mosaic Man plot isn’t groundbreaking or anything, the latest issue of Hack/Slash mixes violence, sex, and humor in a way that makes the book a great choice for anyone looking for something outside of the usual superhero comic mold.

Writer and series co-creator Tim Seeley clearly has a love for everything that makes Hack/Slash work so well. The smart dialogue between Cassie and Vlad always has a perfect “buddy” vibe that makes the leading outcasts oddly endearing, and the fantasy near the opening and the humorous result of it effortlessly mixes the series’ signature dark sexuality and comedy together in a scene that, surprisingly, serves as a slice of character work as well (though it’s still a piece of gratuitous fan-service almost any way you look at it). As for the hunt for the killer, it’s punctuated by flashes of violence that could only really work in a comic that uses the horror genre as a foundation.

I’ve been a fan of Bryan Baugh’s work since he jumped on board the series with Hack/Slash #24. His style looks decidedly “indie” and a bit surreal at times, but it’s perfect for a series like Hack/Slash. With the help of Mark Englert’s moody, deep colors and some heavy inks, Baugh’s art captures everything it needs to. The violence features some disturbing details, the overall tone is heavy and dark, and the characters almost always look like they should (he especially nails the look for Cassie, the gothic pin-up, and Vlad the likable brute). In addition, Baugh gives his characters a nice bit of personality through their slightly exaggerated body language and facial expressions. It keeps them from feeling stiff or unrealistic.

What’s Not So Good: I understand the need to lay the groundwork for the future. I really do. But I can’t help but consider it a negative when Tim Seeley breaks the flow of Hack/Slash #26 with a random scene that’s going to have meaning later. It’s more pointless and distracting than it is interesting at the moment.

My biggest complaint about the artwork is that facial consistency is something of an issue. Some panels just look a bit weird when considering what a character looked like just a few panels before. Another annoyance is that faces tend to look a bit “samey” at times. It’s a fairly common comic book complaint, I know, but it’s something that has to be mentioned.

Conclusion: Hack/Slash #26 is a fun book that deserves to be given a look. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Grade: B+

-Kyle Posluszny