Hilarious poor taste is a slasher film staple, and Tim Seeley’s opening murder for Reanimation Games is a creative example. It’s also a deceptive entry into an encounter that runs contrary to expectations, actually tender in places, and that gets to the heart of Hack/Slash as it develops.

Revenge of the Return cemented the idea of the series moving from pastiche to horror drama as Cassie and Vlad continue to tour the country searching out and dealing with grotesque serial killers, but now with a form of back-up. The pastiche element still occasionally presents, not least when Cassie turns up on the set of a Wizard of Oz remake, but for the most part Hack/Slash is now horror drama with subplots, foreshadowing and supporting cast.

The credits have expanded for this graphic novel. Barry Keating and Brian Yuzna contribute to the plot for the closing three part meeting with Re-Animator, while Mark Kidwell writes scenes that Seeley draws over a two chapter story with two different threads, regular artist Emily Stone handling the remainder. Seeley’s art is functional without ever approaching what Stone can bring to Hack/Slash, particularly not the way she’s able to adapt her methods for different requirements. The sample art is her take on a form of Lovecraftian elder gods.

Seeley also draws a plot involving the Suicide Girls, the art again variable, taking their name very literally in the opening section. It’s awkward. Fans of Suicide Girls aren’t going to get what they want as Seeley can’t take things far enough in a comic, and Hack/Slash fans have to accept the intrusion of a frankly not very interesting bunch beyond a willingness to get tattoos and piercings. Oh, and get naked. For some that may be enough.

An on again/off again subplot has been Cassie’s search for her father, and that comes to a head in the title sequence. It’s the best of Reanimation Games, Seeley and Stone infusing what might have been very silly with some emotional depth. It comes not only via Cassie’s father, but also by Seeley and his co-writers stripping the movie comedy from Dr Herbert West and restoring H.P. Lovecraft’s original concept of a man striving to benefit humanity by conquering death, although not with any great moral grounding. It’s a page turning story also enabling Seeley to expand on the general background of slashers, reveal some of Cassie’s family history, while still supplying the full dose of horror.

This content is also available alongside that of Revenge of the Return in the second Hack/Slash Omnibus. In Revenge and In Love is next.