This Omnibus gathers the second half of the Image Comics run of Hack/Slash begun in 2011, along with meeting hunter of fallen angels Mercy Sparxx. Although intended at the time as closure for the series, this content instead points the way forward by featuring a considerable quantity of material not written by Tim Seeley.

The best of that is Steve Seeley and Michael Moreci’s one chapter stopover for Cassie and Vlad in a small town where the Sheriff’s priority is just closing the case, unconcerned about actual guilt. Unfortunately for him, that’s not going to work with a slasher on the loose. The unexpected is well supplied and Emilio Laiso’s solid storytelling was at that point rare exploitation-free illustration for the series.

Daniel Leister’s art fails on that score, and the early promise of his work has been sidelined into easy options, leaving Elena Casagrande on the six chapter closing story as the most impressive artist on show. There’s no flash about her approach, but everything necessary is there, and she’s handed the difficult task of multiple characters as Seeley reintroduces many people from earlier in the series as the climactic battle with the Black Lamp Society plays out. He’s surprisingly unsentimental about his supporting cast, so don’t expect everyone to survive. After a considerable period of no great purpose, detective Cat Curio is the primary supporting character through these stories. She has a single-minded determination and persistence, her partnership with the alien Poochie forms a likeable double act, and it’s her that makes some significant discoveries.

Cassie and Vlad are subjected to an intense emotional roller-coaster, and a single chapter beginning ‘Final’ is among the best of the series. The monsters are dealt with rapidly, and the demons are personal. It takes a different approach to much of the series, a crime detective piece for the opening half, but playing out in a manner that should please fans overall, even if some won’t like aspects of it. The other long story is earlier, Seeley and Leister ferrying the cast to an island housing a population of monsters, and the film makers who produced a series of thrillers about them back in the day. It channels every monster movie Seeley saw on late night TV during childhood, and is great fun.

With the exception already mentioned, none of the guest contributors approach Seeley’s quality. He has blown hot and cold, and much of the fourth Omnibus was uninspired, but his steering here ranks with the series highlights overall. This content was intended to bring Hack/Slash to a close, but as there’s a sixth Omnibus, that didn’t happen. If preferred, the same content can be found in thinner paperbacks Marry F*ck Kill, Dark Sides and Final.