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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shawn Reviews Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4

I headed over to Dynamite’s website to pick up my first digital comic of 2018, Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. And after reading this one, I was a little disappointed. This issue felt more like filler to pad a 4-issue mini into 5 issues to meet a page quota for a trade paperback, than an issue of a miniseries. The storytelling was a little OFF in this one and I hope this isn’t a precursor of things to come in the final issue.  

Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 picks up where the last issue left off with the Blood Queen of Hearts stabbing Vampirella in the gut with a board. The splash opens on her talking about how much pain she’s in while her healing factor tries to recover from the injury. While she briefly blacks out (Vampi says she dies) as her body copes with the trauma, Vlad and Cassie fight off some demons and take the injured Vampirella in their van and make a getaway in the desert.

The art panels of Cassie and Vlad fighting demons in this issue really are strong, unfortunately the story starts to fall apart. After Vampi wakes out unconsciousness in Cassie and Vlad’s van she says she needs blood. With Vampi taking a bite out of Cassie in the last issue, Vlad volunteers. The whole sequence of Vlad being bitten by Vampirella feels really forced and doesn’t really flow into the story. Plus, wouldn’t both Cassie and Vlad be weak after both being drained of blood? Most people who donate blood are tired after losing so much. But Cassie and Vlad are both ready to fight more demons after being bitten by Vampirella.

But in spite of this plothole the story moves on. After some expository panels explaining how they can defeat the Blood Queen, Blood Queen follows the trio out into the desert with a horde of demons.  After Vlad and Cassie beat down the demons Blood Queen calls up some zombies out of all the bodies buried in the Vegas desert. As the battle continues, Blood Queen’s top henchdemon kidnaps Vlad setting up for next issue’s big finish. And with the way the last few panels set up I’m hoping the final issue is far more satisfying than this issue. 

I really wanted to get excited about Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. Unfortunately, this issue felt more like filler than an actual story. The whole issue just felt like one big expository sequence to stretch a 4-issue mini for trade. The way the story was structured and paced in the first three issues it seems like it was a 4 issue miniseries and the conclusion could have easily wrapped in the fourth issue with the showdown in the desert.

Shawn’s advice to Dynamite on comics overall: Less is more. The tighter the story, the better the reading experience. When I’m putting Isis and E’steem series books together at SJS DIRECT I’d rather publish a 64-page story that that has readers begging for more than a 100 page story that leaves them heading for the door. It would have been better for you to publish four great issues of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella than four solid issues and one mediocre one in the middle. This issue’s weak story throws off the momentum built up over the last three issues and doesn’t give readers incentive to finish the series or buy the final issue.

When you have a miniseries you want the reader to keep the reader so excited that they’re not only looking forward to the final issue, but the next comic. Everything in this mini could easily be used to build an audience for a Dynamite Hack/Slash ongoing, but 

 The only positive about this issue was Rapha Labosco’s art. Labosco has some amazing panels here and the scenes where the heroes fight demons. And the action really moves very well from panel to panel.  

While I was a little disappointed with Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 I’m still looking forward towards the final issue next month. I’m hoping the final issue can bring back the fun and excitement of the first three issues and wrap the miniseries on an up note.

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