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Friday, February 16, 2018

Shawn Reviews Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #5

I picked up the final issue of Dynamite’s Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella Miniseries on Dynamite Digital. After last month’s padded out fourth issue, I was hoping for a big finish to payoff the great story that had been setup for the previous three issues. Unfortunately, the fifth issue provided an anti-climatic finale to what was a promising story.

The final issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella starts with the Blood Red Queen of Hearts taunting the captured Vlad. She’s talking about how she hopes Vampirella will come so she won’t have to cut his heart out to summon the Mad god Chaos. Rapha Lobosco does a great job setting up tension with the images here, but everything falls apart after the third page. Once Vampirella and Cassie Hack come in to save the day the action in the story gets really uninspired. Instead of giving us all the fun and surprises of the first three issues we get a series of by the numbers action sequences that build up to one of the weakest climaxes I’ve ever seen in a comic book story. Endless snakes spell? Come on. That’s weaksauce for a satanic sorceress.

When I wrote E’steem Little Girl Lost I at least had the Devilish Diva beat up some demon strippers in the climax of the story to make things fun before Brimstone Jack tossed his cobra pimp cane at her. A bad guy defeat is supposed to feature a BIG FINISH; it’s supposed to be the PAYOFF for the reader. Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella set up big stakes, but doesn’t payoff BIG for the reader in the final issue. Cassie Hack was expecting some supernatural fireworks with the defeat of the Blood Red Queen of Hearts, and so was I.

While the series ends with the promise of another possible team up between these two awesome characters, I’m hoping that Dynamite puts a little more panache as related to the storytelling in the next team-up. Shawn Aldridge did a great job of keeping Cassie and Vampi’s characterizations consistent, but I didn’t see any of his thumbprint put on this story. I guess Dynamite wanted it written generic, but the way I see it every comic book needs to be special.

A crossover mini-series is supposed to showcase what makes two characters great and give the audience an incentive to go out and buy more issues of their ongoings. Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella could have been a great introduction to Vampirella and Cassie Hack and a gateway to bringing Hack/Slash into the Dynamite Universe, but the flat finale of this story prevents Dynamite from building the momentum needed to sell the next issue of Vampirella or a new #1 issue of a Hack/Slash series under the Dynamite imprint in the future.  

What really saves this fifth issue is the art. Rapha Lobosco really made many of the panels pop for the last issue. He does a great job of setting mood, tone and tension in the last issue, and the art is really strong in this fifth issue. The big splash of Cassie Hack being carried by a flying Vampirella reminded me of the scene in my novel The Temptation of John Haynes where E’steem flies John Haynes off the roof of the flaming Morris Phillips Tower. If I ever did a Temptation of John Haynes graphic novel that’s how I’d want the panel to look for that big climax.

I came into Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #5 hoping for a rebound from the padded out fourth issue, but wound up indifferent by a flat anti-climatic ending. While the ending is a bit meh, it’s still worth a read. If you don’t know much about Cassie Hack or Vampirella, this mini is a great way to get to know those characters and see what’s great about them.

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