Cassie Hack’s destiny was sealed when her late mother Delilah Hack — the notorious serial killer known as the Lunch Lady — came back from the dead as one of the vicious monsters known as “Slashers.” Cassie put her mother down and since then, she and her faithful, oversized partner Vlad have been roaming the land, seeking out other Slashers and sending them back to their graves in the pages of “Hack/Slash,” the ongoing horror/humor series from Devil’s Due Publishing and writer Tim Seeley and artist Emily Stone.
Besides hunting the undead, Cassie and Vlad have also been looking for Cassie’s missing father, Dr. Jack Hack, a man she hasn’t seen since childhood. This week’s “Hack/Slash” #15 begins a storyline that finally reunites Cassie with her estranged father. Unfortunately for her, the path to her father will bring Cassie face to face with a man notorious for bringing the dead back to life, Doctor Herbert West of the cult-favorite “Re-Animator” horror films. CBR News spoke with Seeley about the storyline and his other plans for “Hack/Slash.”
Cassie first met Vlad in Chicago, where he had been living a hermitlike existence on the city’s streets because of his hulking and misshapen form. Since he began traveling with Cassie, the gentle giant has not only learned more about the world but he’s also become quite the detective as well. In the recent “Hack/Slash” #14, it was Vlad’s skills as a tracker that saved a friend from a Slasher. “Vlad is developing a bit as a character. He has good survival instincts and a good eye –something he developed living off the streets before he met Cass,” Seeley told CBR News. “Cass is the looks and the ferocity. Vlad is the brains and the power.”
|Pages from “Hack/Slash” #15|
Much of Cassie’s ferocity comes from her issues with her parents, into which Seeley will delve deeply starting with “Hack/Slash” #15. “The ‘Re-Animator’ crossover probably looks like a bit of a ‘for the sake of sales’ kind of event, but really, this is a storyline that’s really been worked up to for a bit, and fully involves a lot of members of the ‘H/S’ cast,” Seeley explained. “We’ve been sorta diddlin’ around with Cass’s dad for a few years even! So, all of Cass’s issues, feelings and problems come to a head in these three issues!”
Cassie’s father made his first physical appearance in issue #14, when he descended into a basement to approach Dr. Herbert West (aka Mr. Lazarus) for help. “Jack is a flawed guy–very flawed, and we’ll see what makes him strike a deal with a guy like Herbert,” Seeley said. “One of the things I always liked about Herbert West was that he’s never the hero of the [‘Re-Animator’] movies, but he’s not the bad guy either. He exists in an interesting grey area, an area that we’ll see Jack Hack is pretty familiar with.”
Seeley sees Herbert West as being a shining example of the old cliche about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. “West is a scientist first and foremost. And ultimately, his goal of defeating death is a noble endeavor,” Seeley said of the character played in three films by Jeffrey Combs. “West’s evil comes in his blind pursuit of his goal. Herbert would never outright hurt an innocent– but lots of people have been hurt by his experiments and work.
|Pages from “Hack/Slash” #15|
“In the ‘H/S’ crossover West will play the role he’s played in the films– anti-hero, villain, protagonist, and all around great character.”
Chronologically, Herbert West’s appearance in “Hack/Slash” takes place after the third “Re-Animator” film, “Beyond Re-Animator.” “Though it’s fairly unnecessary to have seen that movie–or really any of the movies if you choose, to enjoy the crossover,” Seeley stated. “Personally though, I recommend any ‘H/S’ reader treats themselves, at least to the first film and the second one, ‘Bride of Re-Animator,’ for sure.”
The “Hack/Slash” and “Re-Animator” crossover is a three-issue arc that unfolds in “Hack/Slash” #15-17. “Cass, searching for her father –after discovering a list of his new identities in issue # 10– finds Jack Hack just as he’s about to partner with Herbert West in an experiment that Cass and Vlad will find personally interesting,” Seeley said.
The machinations of West and Jack Hack also mean Cassie will encounter once again her most terrifying adversary. “Two words,” Seeley teased. “Lunch Lady!!!“
|Pages from “Hack/Slash” #15|
The “Re-Animator” arc of “Hack/Slash” is very new-reader-friendly. Seeley designed it so that fans who have never read a “Hack/Slash” comic or seen a “Re-Animator” film could understand and enjoy the tale, but the story also has plenty to offer long time “Hack/Slash” fans as well. “Threads we began at the very beginning of the ongoing all come to head here!” Seeley promised.
The chance to use film character Dr. Herbert West in the Devil’s Due comic book came about because of Stefan Hutchinson, the writer of DDP’s comics based on the “Halloween” film franchise. “Stefan is an all-around horror guru and introduced me to Barry Keatinge, who was working with [‘Re-Animator’ filmmaker] Brian Yuzna on getting Herbert into some other entertainment forms, including comics,” Seeley explained. “It all timed out perfectly and we were able to come up with a cool way to re-introduce Dr. West into comics in an official capacity. The plot was conceived by me, Barry and Brian, so Brian has his hands in it and did a lot in keeping Herbert totally in-character.”
|“Hack/Slash” #15 variant cover, “Re-Animator” DVD|
Once the “Re-Animator” arc wraps up, Seeley will shift the spotlight onto some of the supporting cast of “Hack/Slash” including Pooch, a semi-intelligent, four-legged beast that was sent by his masters, the extra-dimensional Lords of Nef, to kill Cassie Hack. Pooch has yet to complete his assignment, though, as he’s currently living a content life in Wisconsin with Cassie’s friends Chris and Lisa, who think he’s some weird kind of dog. “Poor Pooch. He knows the Lords of Nef ain’t gonna be happy that he didn’t do his job,” Seeley said. “Pooch is going to get his own issue coming up pretty quick, where we’ll see that Pooch is more than just a creepy, ugly dog thing.”
After his look at the series’ supporting cast, Seeley kicks off the next big “Hack/Slash” arc, which sees the cops and a psychic named Muffy Joworski searching for Cassie and Vlad. In “Hack/Slash” #14, readers got to see one of Muffy’s psychic visions, which seemed to be a call back to one of Cassie’s earlier adventures — only this time she wasn’t slaying a Slasher, she was a Slasher!
“Clearly, what Muffy’s seeing is wrong,” Seeley remarked. “Or, maybe it’s right? Hell, maybe that’s what really happened and Cass is the crazy one!!”