No-one puts in all the effort required to create a series only intending it runs for just a few stories, but surely even Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley couldn’t have anticipated he’d get ten solid years of work from his slight tinkering of the slasher movie formula. The twist is that Cassie Hack may occasionally play the part, but she’s no hapless victim, and her mission in life is to deal with all slashers, for the purposes of this series likened to a form of intelligent zombie. Following the success of the material found in First Cut, another three stories are collected here, or alternatively combined with First Cut’s content in the first Hack/Slash Omnibus.

Hack/Slash straddles a fine line between satire and genre love, a having your cake and eating it balancing act, and the plots are generally inventive. Among other interesting scenes, ‘Land of Lost Toys’ gives Vlad’s background, and succeeds in injecting the required pathos for an isolated soul. It’s the growth into that sort of insight primarily responsible for Hack/Slash becoming something more than its influences. The insight’s again apparent when Cassie gets to the bottom of what’s going on as Seeley mixes and matches the methods of this serial killers. Dave Crosland (sample art) was possibly a slight risk when his art was originally commissioned, because the sketchiness is far removed from the figurative artists who’d illustrated First Cut. To begin with the drawing’s fine, the wavy lines from which everything’s constructed very effective, but as the story continues the art seems rushed, and his interpretation of Cassie becomes more objectified.

‘Trailers’ is a selection of brief snippets drawn by different artists as if previewing forthcoming stories. While those stories were never intended as anything more than jokes, ‘Tub Club’, exploitatively drawn by Seeley himself, was later worked up and is found in Hack/Slash‘s fourth volume Revenge of the Return. The art’s variable, but they’re fun pastiches.

‘Slice Hard’ also uses several artists, and while it accommodates them easily enough, that’s because it’s a bitty piece, constantly switching tone and mood, although Seeley’s reason is to widen Cassie’s world. This is the clever idea of a make-up company investigating slashers in order to generate a life-prolonging skin care product, and of course, in slasher films when anyone believes they can tame the killer they have a mighty big shock heading their way. Several, actually, although some artists are patently better than others.

Seeley has the creative imagination to keep Hack/Slash fresh, and to ensure the title doesn’t entirely define the content. He builds well to the surprises while also not cheating on the signposted predictability of slasher movies. The next selection is Friday the 31st.