Hack/Slash: Back to School sees Zoe Thorogood at the helm. Thorogood’s most recent work, It’s Lonely at The Centre of the Earth, provided an in-depth look into her deepest thoughts and emotions and the overall toll life can take. I feared that Hack/Slash was too much of a departure, which makes her work so special. But even just one issue in, I learned that while the vehicle is drastically different, the depth is all the same.
My familiarity of the Hack/Slash universe is that of following Tim Seeley on Twitter. I’ve never read any of his Hack/Slash work, which makes my experience with the universe fresh. Back to School feels like a perfect point to jump in. I’m sure there is some context that passed me by, but I didn’t feel lost or confused at any point.
The story unfolds comically as Cassie Hack is in a diner eating a burger with her monster-partner Vlad. just a couple pages in, and I was enamored with how effective Thorogood utilizes color and lettering. It’s amazing that she can create panels that are so vivid and bright, while expressing such dark themes. A news story plays out in black and white with spot color of red. While a slasher decapitates a couple eating at the diner in a vivid sunburst of color. In a dark twist, they are both still consuming their food. One with burger bits flying out of their mouth, while the other has a straw still firmly pursed between his lips. The contrast between dark imagery displayed in the brightest of colors is expertly done in showcasing something dark and nasty in a softer, more playful way.
Thorogood’s dialogue bubbles play nicely within their panels, but the way she represents Cassie’s inner dialogue is where things shine. Unlike the standard thought bubbles you are used to seeing, Cassie’s thoughts are in rectangles which mimic lined school paper. It not only helps to differentiate inner dialogue from standard exposition; it also works to call back to the back-to-school motif.
Her written dialogue in these sections showcases her power in writing strong, yet vulnerable heroines. Thorogood’s characters in Hack/Slash certainly exude more levity than her previously written work but doesn’t lose an ounce of depth. Darla Ritz’s bloody entrance, as in stomping on the slasher’s face with spiked stilettos, paves the way for another strong female character.
Darla is the owner of the Hunters for Hire academy. It has the feel of something like Dr. Strange’s academy but a bit more bloody. The academy features a handful of eccentric characters about which I can’t wait to learn more.
One of the unsung heroes of the first book was Vlad: a hulking monster that travels around with Cassie when she spared his life. He is an oaf in the most endearing way possible.
The start of Zoe Thorogood’s run of Hack/Slash: Back to School could not have gone any better. It features well-rounded characters we’ve come to know by her, while pairing it with a more palpable take on dark material. This being her first time fully writing, drawing and coloring a book is an astounding achievement that has launched the rest of the series to the top of my pull list.
Things I loved
- Strong, well-rounded characters
- Effectively separating inner dialogue to outside exposition
- Colorful panels with dark subjects
Things I didn’t