After turning all of the previous volume over to a selection of other creators, Tim Seeley writes the entirety of Final, which also has the bonus of Elena Casagrande drawing all six chapters. Because Seeley had no involvement in Dark Sides, the plots he left hanging from Marry F*ck Kill weren’t addressed, at least those involving Cassie, so Seeley starts with them and introduces a level of dramatic tragedy never before plumbed in Hack/Slash.

It didn’t quite work out as intended, but at the time Final was to draw a line under Hack/Slash, and Seeley aims for a valedictory feel over six chapters featuring many of the people who’ve survived earlier stories. Don’t take it for granted that they’ll do so a second time. Anyone not versed in the entire back catalogue may find the succession of strange folk puzzling, making it difficult to concern oneself about their fate, although it should be noted that Seeley has no sentimentality about supporting cast whom he feels have served their purpose. What it all amounts to is that the Black Lamp Society is under new leadership who feels the weak should be culled, and the society ought to be more proactive. To that end, they’ve been gathering Cassie’s enemies.

Solely from the viewpoint of one artist being preferable just to keep the sheer number of participants straight, Casagrande would be welcome. However, she’s as good an artist as Hack/Slash has seen since the earliest days, no great flash about her work, but an absolute storytelling solidity.

Because Seeley includes so many people from the past, there’s little room for much in the way of action, so Final is a very different type of story for Hack/Slash. Until just after halfway through it’s more a detective thriller than horror, Cassie and allies piecing together clues until all hell bursts loose. Seeley uses the larger cast well, has devised all sorts of ways of dealing with slashers he’s not previously used, which is diverting, and knows fine what his audience wants and leads them efficiently to it. If you’ve been a reader for a while, Final is likely to push all the right buttons and reminds us that tragedy is at the heart of the best horror, while slashers are too superficial.

The intended completion of Cassie and Vlad’s career didn’t last as Son of Samhain followed with indecent haste, and two years later Hack/Slash: Resurrection appeared. This is also available in the fifth Hack/Slash Omnibus.