When Tim Seeley made the announcement that he would be taking his flagship title “HACK/SLASH” away from publisher Devil’s Due and moving over to Image Comics, there was a very positive outcry amongst fans of the series who saw the move as a step in the right direction for their beloved series. It is true that under DDP the title felt as if it were being held down, and with many issues finding themselves pushed back or delayed from their original release dates it was apparent that change was needed. With the final issue of “SUPER SIDEKICK SLEEPOVER SLAUGHTER” that was released last month, Tim has decided to boldly go where he has never gone before: into the origins of his iconic heroine, Cassie Hack. Read On For The Full Review.
“MY FIRST MANIAC” is just how it sounds. The story begins with a young Cassandra Hack having just killed her mother, the vicious murderess known as “The Lunch Lady”. At this point in her life Cassie is just a socially awkward teen who listens to My Chemical Romance and crushes on the cute boys at her school who won’t give her the time of day. After the murder Cassie finds herself living with her foster parents Shannon and Karen, two very ordinary, but caring individuals who offer the girl some semblance of normalcy. It is important to focus in on this aspect of the story itself because it just might be what sets “MY FIRST MANIAC” apart from every other issue in the series thus far. Very rarely has Tim Seeley allowed himself to explore the depths of inner pain and struggle for his character, and while reading this issue you will wish that he didn’t. Everyone who reads Tim’s work knows just what kind of writer he is when it comes to being slapstick and pouring on the black humor, and in that capacity he is one of the best in his field. (After all, why else do we read “HACK/SLASH”?…Get your heads out of the gutters you perverts!) However, with the first issue in “MY FIRST MANIAC” Tim Seeley has done something he has only dared to do before, something that he has always teased but never fully shown to us, and that is to become quite possibly the best writer in horror comics today.
It can be very hard to write true human emotions, especially that of a teenage girl. (I’d imagine that it is the comic book equivalent to climbing Everest) But what makes this issue so entertaining to read is the fact that you are allowed to see Cassie as a human being, as something weak, something vulnerable. By taking the armor off of Cassie we are able to look past her barbed wire wit and tough as nails persona and see what it is that makes her tick. Why does Cassie feel the need to do what she does? Is it a psychosis, a super power, a calling from within? These are the things that readers are allowed to chew on as Tim has thrown his audience a very juicy bone, and everyone should find it to be quite the treat.
Layering has always been something that “HACK/SLASH” has seemed to be pencil thin in, opting to go the ‘fun and goofy’ route by way of ‘gore and boobs’ to capture the attention of its decidedly desensitized audience. To put it in lamens terms, “HACK/SLASH” is more the equivalent of the “FRIDAY THE 13th” franchise as far as content than anything else. That is why it is nice to see Tim finally allowing himself to stretch his creative legs and truly run with the character that has made him such a well known name in the industry. None of this is to say that the old formula doesn’t work, on the contrary I have never read an issue that hasn’t thoroughly entertained me, but diversity is important, especially in writing. You honestly get the feeling of growing with Cassie through her ordeal, and by the time she decides to leave her life behind for the life we know her for we get the sense that we have a true understanding of what it is that she is thinking.
On the art side of things we have series veteran Daniel Leister. There isn’t a whole lot that can be said about Daniel that hasn’t already. His artwork has become the true face of what “HACK/SLASH” is. When you see a depiction of Cassie and her signature bat, you see it drawn by Daniel. The art is fresh, fluid, and clean. Each panel meshes well with the one before and after it, and the transitions are all done perfectly. There are plenty of money shots (including one very bloody page that serves as the issues’ intro) and there is even a very cool layout that is used to replicate a young girls journal. One of the most impressive things about the art aspect of Daniel’s work on “MY FIRST MANIAC” is the facial expressions that he has put on each of the characters. Being handed such an emotionally heavy workload as he was with this issue it would have been a rough endeavor for any illustrator to tell the story at hand, and if it would have been any other artist they might not have had the same results, but for a man who has been doodling this character for so long you get the sense that he was the only artist for the job.
When all is done and read, “HACK/SLASH: MY FIRST MANIAC” is the best issue of “HACK/SLASH” that Tim and Co. have ever put out. There is nothing about this story that fans of the series, both new and old, should find fault with. Any reservations that you might have had about the series being moved or of Cassie’s ‘origins’ being revealed can be tossed out the window. “HACK/SLASH: MY FIRST MANIAC” is a triumphant return to the characters roots that is not to be missed. Let it be known: “HACK/SLASH” is back, and it is better than ever. If you want to try and argue, well, to borrow a line…”kiss it”.
5 Out Of 5 Skulls
“HACK/SLASH: MY FIRST MANIAC” Issue #1 Drops June 9th From Image Comics! (MSRP-$3.99)