It’s not packaged as such, but Torture Prone is a clearing of the decks and a new start, which doesn’t make an awful lot of difference for anyone just picking up the graphic novels in order. However, the content was produced when Tim Seeley switched publishers, and so the opening story ‘Murder Messiah’ concludes many of the plots he left hanging in Super Sidekick Sleepover Slaughter. We discover who broke into Chris and Lisa’s house and why, what happened to Libby Lochs, some things with Georgia are settled, and a couple of big shocks occur over the final pages, one of them a revelation to endanger Cassie Hack. For anyone who’s followed Hack/Slash it’s a fine piece of writing, providing a thrilling story along with the subplots being completed, but anyone picking this up blind is likely to be confused by who everyone is and what their purpose might be. They should still be able to appreciate the decent art from Jethro Morales, although he slips a little too far into objectification of women.

So does regular series artist Daniel Leister, now able to up the violence and also the nudity from coy flashes to the full monty. Hack/Slash has long progressed from its slasher movie parody origins, but with Leister’s illustrations now far more explicit the exploitative content is back to those levels, now lacking the excuse of parody. There’s a considerable irony in this volume passing the Bechdel Test partially on the basis of exploitative content. Otherwise Leister’s welcome as a regular artist on a series that’s often survived by changing artists on a story by story basis.

The Black Lamp Society will be an ongoing concern for Cassie, a secret society with arcane rituals who unleash the slasher killers on the world, but they take a back seat here as Seeley introduces new readers to Cassie’s world via returning slashers she’s previously dealt with. They’re more troublesome than before, now seemingly able to overcome earlier restrictions concerning which slashers can return from death. Seeley also slips investigator Cat Curio into the series, now several years older than when introduced during In Revenge and In Love, and with a mission. The way she adjusts resourcefully to horrific circumstances beyond most people’s comprehension immediately marks her as interesting, which is what Pooch continues to be with a constant stream of off-colour remarks and repulsive habits.

Ignore the objectification, and the overall plot moves forward intriguingly over four episodes, setting up the future nicely. All this content is also available in the fourth Hack/Slash Omnibus, combined with the content of the following Dead Celebrities.