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Monday, October 9, 2017

Shawn Reviews Dynamite’s Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #1

 When I first saw the promos for Dynamite’s Hack Slash vs. Vampirella in August I was intrigued. With two of my favorite indie comic characters featured in a story together at one of my favorite publishers I had to take a look. And after reading the first issue I’m counting down the days until the next one. This comic was so much fun it reminded me of why I got into comics back in High school back in the 1980’s.

In the first issue we’re introduced to Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad in a way that makes the characters accessible to new readers. Cassie and Vlad are on vacation from hunting slashers in Vegas and they run into a grisly murder scene where a man has had his heart cut out of his chest. When she hears it’s the second murder in as many days Cassie is intrigued, However Vlad insists they’re on vacation. They head to the sleazy dive motel to settle in. After bantering about the one eyed bandit with Cassie, Vlad falls asleep. And a curious Cassie goes to the hotel where the murder happened to investigate.

After doing some canvassing in the casino, Cassie heads up to the hotel room where the murder occurred to look for clues into the murders where she finds…Vampirella. The splash page introducing her had great art, unfortunately the dowdy outfit Vampirella was wearing just wasn’t anything a woman would wear. No woman wears jeans tucked into tall boots in the Vegas heat.

Note to Dynamite’s editorial department: When you’re introducing your heroes in the first issue of a story you want them presented in a way that leaves a strong first impression on readers and lets them be recognized from the first panel. You did a great job introducing Cassie and Vlad in their civilian/iconic looks, and you should have done the same with your franchise heroine Vampirella. Usually before I write an Isis or an E’steem story and I want to do a chapter with them in a civilian look, I check out a Boden, Victoria’s Secret or a J. Crew catalog to see how women are dressing. That T-shirt, jeans, and tall boots look was a fashion DON’T.

Cassie and Vampirella have a confrontation and Vlad steps in. We get a great showcase of Vlad’s stealth skills and Vampirella’s powers before she leaves and hotel security shows up. After Cassie and Vlad give the guards a fist full of Ambien, The mystery of the Blood Red Queen of Hearts deepens and by the last page Cassie and Vlad confront the Blood Red Queen who leaves them a nice friendly demon to fight. And Shawn is eager to see how slasher hunters beat a demon in 30 days!

Yeah, this first issue was mostly setup. But the plotting, pacing, and artwork are extremely well done in this comic. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella does a great job of introducing the main characters, what they want to do and gives us a reason to care about buying the next issue in 20 pages. This first issue had me wanting more, and that’s what a good comic should do, have you anticipating buying the next.

I loved the first issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. However, I wish the story didn’t play it so safe. While the story is fun, it’s a little by the numbers. I’d like to have seen Shawn Aldridge put a little panache on his storytelling so we can see a little of his personality on the page. Usually when I’m writing an Isis or an E’steem story I try to put some of my fingerprint on a story with the premise or the storytelling approach to make the story fresh and compelling for readers and to let the reader know they’re reading a Shawn James story.

But I can understand why Dynamite was conservative with its story model for this miniseries. You don’t want to alienate the fans of two popular comic book franchises by giving them something that has heroes acting out of character. And Shawn Aldridge does a solid job of keeping all these franchise characters consistent in their personality, characterizations and “voices” in Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. I believe with another round of edits to fix a few minor issues this good comic could have been GREAT. 

Usually crossover comics suck. But Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella starts out strong without any of the continuity baggage that usually bogs down franchise crossovers and makes them a chore to read. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella is an easy entry point for both new readers and longtime fans and is a boatload of fun to read. I highly recommend you pick up the first issue. This miniseries looks like it’s going to be a winner!

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