From Tim Seeley and a ton of artists. Collecting lots of the first Hack/Slash stories including Euthanized, Girls Gone Dead, Comic Book Carnage, Land of Lost Toys, Trailers, Slice Hard, and crossovers with Chucky and Evil Ernie.
I have loved Cassie Hack for a long time. Once her first comic was brought to my attention I bought every appearance for years and championed making her a bigger star. In fact, the previous version of this blog was on the front lines of the Allison Scagliotti for Cassie Hack movement. That was ten years ago and unfortunately that project never materialized.
But this first omnibus has materialized and I’m reminded why I love this character. Cassie Hack is a bullied girl. Her mom, the school lunch lady, sticks up for her child. Unfortunately its buy killing the bullies and using their bodies as meat for the lunches. When police come to arrest her at the school she takes her own life by going face first into a boiling pot. But wait, there’s more! She comes back as the evil Lunch Lady, a slasher killer in the tradition of your favorite VHS horror movies. Cassie is the only one who can take out her mom and afterwards discovers her mission in life. She is the ultimate final girl. The only one who can bring these slasher undead killers to permanent ends. Now Cassie with her mutated beast friend Vlad travel the country taking out horror movie villains.
Seeley brings all of his loves into the stories. Horror obviously. But also all that comics can be, grindhouse films, parody, and more. Its a blender of influences. The good kind of blender. Not like the Lunch Lady. He writes Cassie as flawed but dedicated. She can be weak, she can have no faith that she’ll come out of this alive. But she also knows that if she doesn’t do it, or at least try, there’s no one else. I think that lack of perfection is what has drawn fans to Cassie Hack now for years. Wonder Woman is a god. Black Widow is a super spy. Cassie is a scared lonely goth girl who accepts what she must do but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it.
Land of Lost Toys is maybe the most disturbing. Evil kids always make me feel uncomfortable, and the jumps this story takes are jarring. Euthanized features evil animals. Girls Gone Dead is a take on spring break and religious zealots. I think this story is where fans started to take notice there was something special here. Comic Book Carnage is a great look at obsessed fans at a convention and features actual comic creators within. Slice Hard shows the universe that has been built and how the “real world” would attempt to control the slasher killers.
The crossovers with Chucky and Evil Ernie did more for me than their starring stories. Chucky is such a silly concept but it feels more serious and scary on a comic page. Maybe because comics have things far more absurd than a possessed kids doll. This is also such a streamlined version of Evil Ernie I found it more fun than his usual Chaos tales. I’m all in for Ernie and Cassie as some sort of star crossed lovers. An idea that I would love to see revisited every couple years.
The abundance of different artists across the comics collected within shows why Cassie Hack went from a new character to a beloved one. Her costume can be varied, as long as it stays true to her character. Unless she’s undercover. Which makes her a cosplayers dream. Cassie dresses how she wants to, how she feels most comfortable. If someone thinks she looks sexy or dangerous or violent or evil, that’s on them. She’s just Cassie. This comes across from every artist. No one draws a bad girl pinup. They’re drawing someone “real” and that attracts new fans every time that now find something inspiring in her.
There’s no good reason for my demographic to be drawn to her but there’s something intangible that comes through every story. I guess it’s akin to screaming at the screen while watching a horror movie. Cassie is someone to root for. Viewers and readers want her to make it through alive and then want to feel that tension all over again for the sequel.