I will admit, when I first read the first issues of “Hack/Slash” oh so long ago, my initial feelings were not very positive. At first glance, the book looked like it was an excuse to draw some gratuitous violence being committed to and by scantily clad women, and while some people may like that, it wasn’t my cup of tea.
But eventually something changed. I saw the story develop more, I saw the creators take the time to give their slasher-hunting heroine some great motivations and really flesh out (pun) her background, and I saw a comic that knew what it was doing written by people who clearly loved creating it. I became a fan, so seeing something like “Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 made me excited.
Now, I don’t know if this is a reboot, a reimagining, or if multiversal shenanigans are afoot, but let’s take a look and see what this new story has to offer.
WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOR THE ORIGINAL COMIC SERIES BELOW!
Written and illustrated by Zoe Thorogood
HACK/SLASH returns with an untold tale and critically acclaimed cartoonist ZOE THOROGOOD at the bloody helm!
Slasher hunter Cassie Hack is only just getting used to her man-monster partner, Vlad, when she’s drawn into a new case involving a murderous bunny mascot, dead kids, and an entire squad of maladjusted teenage serial-killer hunters!
A completely new chapter in the beloved, long-running series that’s perfect for new readers and old fans alike, just in time for Halloween.
If you’re a fan of “Hack/Slash,” you know the backstory of the main character and why she does what she does. For anyone who is new to the series, Cassie Hack (groan) is the daughter of a former slasher villain called “The Lunchlady,” an actual cafeteria lady who killed a group of boys who were bullying her daughter and served them up for lunch. Her mother died and Cassie spent her life wandering across the United States with her friend and partner Vlad, a massive brute of a man who looks like a Jason Voorhees ripoff but actually has a heart of gold. It was a loving homage to the slasher genre, and had plenty of scares and character moments aplenty.
“Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 re-introduces Cassie and Vlad at the beginning of their journey, only this time there’s a school for girls like her who hunt slasher murderers. It’s called the Hunters for Hire & Darla Ritz’s Academy for girls, and acts as a classroom, training center, and network for people fighting against all sorts of slashers, ranging from the magical, mystical, and scientific. It’s horrific ultra violence and a battle of good vs. evil mixed with something far more terrifying: high school girl drama!
“Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 is written and drawn by Zoe Thorogood. It’s important to mention that because having a book that is written and drawn by a single person is a rarity these days, and sadly it can be a sign of poor quality since there are a lot of artists who have difficulty crafting a story, not a lot of writers who can draw very well, and the stresses of scripting, plotting, and drawing a story can put a lot of strain on both. With that being said, Zoe Thorogood crafts a fantastic story in “Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 that does a great job of introducing Cassie and Vlad to a new audience while providing plenty of entertainment to older fans of the series. Right off the bat, Thorogood establishes Cassie as someone who wants to do good in a world filled with monsters, but it’s very clear that she is new to the whole thing and she is wracked with a ton of emotional baggage and insecurities. Thorogood nails the relationship between Cassie and Vlad, with Cassie not wanting a friend who will get hurt if they hang around her and Vlad being a single minded brute with a genuine heart of gold.
It’s Cassie’s emotional baggage and friendship with Vlad that is the core of the story, as Thorogood introduces her own twist on the story when Darla Ritz waltzes in, saves Cassie’s life, and brings her to her academy for training. Once again, Thorogood does a great job of introducing everyone and and everything in a way that is easy to understand and incredibly enjoyable, and to mention anything else would involve further spoilers, but it’s a book that takes the well known tropes of a student who is sent away to a magical boarding school and uses them to set up a fun and engaging story. There’s the usual collection of hot but kind of dumb cheerleaders, smart tech nerds, and ambitious and capable leader types who are probably going to be a problem for Cassie and Vlad in the future. Also, there’s a cybernetic undead pug named Angel, who is adorable.Continued below
Zoe Thorogood also provides the artwork for “Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 and if you’re not a fan of blood, violence, and pictures of women in short skirts and compromising poses, you should probably find something else to read. If you do like all of that then don’t worry, because “Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 has plenty of it and best of all, it doesn’t feel overly gratuitous. Thorogood has a fascinating art style that combines elements from western comics, Peach Momoko, and even some elements that look like they were drawn by Ezra Jack Keats, who was a children’s book author during the ’60s through the ’90s. It kind of looks like the characters were drawn on high quality construction paper and turned into paper dolls, which all comes together in some unique and pretty art.
“Hack/Slash: Back to School” #1 is a book that doesn’t have to try to be good. All it had to do was deliver some blood, guts, and a few lewd moments and it could have coasted on its title and reputation to sell to a nostalgic reader base. Fortunately, it doesn’t do that and Zoe Thorogood delivers a deep, meaningful reboot of the beloved series with some great character moments, a familiar yet intriguing new premise, and plenty of new opportunities for fun adventures. Oh, and there’s still plenty of blood and gore.
Final Verdict: 9.5- A fantastic book that understand what made the source material so good in the first place but isn’t afraid to strike out on its own and explore new ideas and new territory.