Unbeknownst to them, the drunken, horny, teenagers of America owe their lives to Cassie Hack and her hulking partner Vlad. Cass and Vlad are the stars of writer/creator Tim Seeley’s ongoing series “Hack/Slash” from Devil’s Due Publishing, which details their war against undead serial killers or “Slashers.” For years, the duo has been hoping to get answers about the mysterious phenomenon that creates Slashers, and in recent issues of “Hack/Slash” they got the info they were looking for. Unfortunately for them, it turned out to be a classic example of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” That’s because Cass and Vlad now know that in order to win their war, they’ll have to bring down an enigmatic and very powerful enemy. CBR News Spoke with Seeley about the revelations of “Hack/Slash” #24-25, the new story that begins in issue #26 – on sale this week – as well as the latest developments on the “Hack/Slash” feature film.
In “Hack/Slash” #24 Cassie and Vlad learned that the Slasher phenomenon was born in Ancient Rome, thanks to the machinations of an alchemist named Akakios, who was horrified and repulsed by the wild, hedonistic, Bacchanalia Rituals of Roman Libertines. Akakios and his followers struck back against these “Children of Dionysus” with the use of a mysterious plant whose nectar revived corpses and transformed them into savage killers. They employed these undead monstrosities as enforcers of their will. Collectively Akakios and his followers became known as The Black Lamp Society, because their killer producing plant, Black Ambrosia, produced a black flame when it was burned.
Today, the Society is more powerful than ever and could be thought of as the overarching villains of “Hack/Slash.” “The Society has it’s hands in a lot of the things Cas and Vlad run into. So, inevitably they’ll been crossing paths a lot more,” Seeley told CBR News. “The Society, like any big group, has the advantage of having a lot of members, but they’re all individuals with different approaches, interpretations of their religion, and end goals. So they’re going to be more of the evil brains to the slashers’ evil brawns.”
In Akakios’s days, Slasher’s were created by injecting corpses with the the nectar from Black Ambrosia, but they’re created somewhat differently now. “So far, as we’ve seen, it’s sort of ‘bred in.’ When two people carrying the ‘slasher juice’ in their genes procreate, they might end up with a kid who will someday don a mask and try to stab fornicating teens,” Seeley explained. “The Society is trying to get a better control of the process, but as we’ve seen, the downside is, all the slashers they make kill THEMSELVES too.”
Cassie and Vlad had their first clash with a Black Lamp Society Operative and his agents in “Hack/Slash” #24-25. It was a fight that they wouldn’t have survived without the help of allies. Those unlikely associates were Samhain, a Slasher for the Black Lamp who had somehow defeated the Society’s conditioning, and Venus 12, a genetically bred sex slave given free will and intelligence by a renegade doctor in the Society’s ranks. Seeley tells us that readers can expect to see both characters again in future issues of “Hack/Slash.” “They’ll definitely be back, and they’ll figure in pretty prominently to the biggest, longest story arc yet, which will come up in the next year,” Seeley said. “See, people think I just crank this shit out, but there’s a plan!! BWAHAHAHAAHAH!”
Samhain did more than just save Cassie’s life in “Hack/Slash” #24-25 – he also awoke some feelings of attraction in her. Making Cassie’s romantic life even more complicated is the fact that she’s just dumped her girlfriend, Georgia. “Cass is definitely unpredictable when it comes to ‘romance’ and sex. And I think that’s a central part of her character. We don’t really know exactly why she dumped Georgia–but it definitely seems like she was trying to protect her. But, as we’ll see, there’s something about Samhain that she’s attracted to. But it might not be the bod so much as the fact that he’s dangerous, unpredictable and wears a mask,” Seeley remarked. “That’s one thing I want to be able to play with is Cass’ attractions and emotional attachments. People really like to classify characters, and by extension, real people. But, Cassie is an individual. An individual who has been through some rough shit. This affects her ‘personal’ life in some complex ways. I want her to be both the ‘bad ass girl in sexy outfits that kills stuff’ and the ‘complex, realistic interesting character that people get invested in.'”
Cassie’s romantic feelings have caused her relationship with Vlad to become some what complicated, but issue #26 kicks off a story that will ease the tension between them. “26 and 27 have Cass and Vlad going back to Chicago, and facing the first slasher they ever tackled together. So this story will let us really get back to basics, and let them remember why they work together in the first place,” Seeley revealed. “It connects some old plots and storylines and gives us a fun, freaky tale that focuses on Cas and Vlad.”
Long time “Hack/Slash” fans know that the first Slasher Cassie and Vlad ever tangled with was a fiend called Julian the Mosaic Man, who, until now, has only been featured in flashbacks. And Julian won’t be the only villain Cassie and Vlad run afoul of in issue #26-27. They’ll also be confronted by a dangerous women armed with black magic. “Liberty or ‘Libby’ is our new antagonist, and she’s a witch of sorts. She’s controlling Julian in an attempt to lure Cas and Vlad back to Chi-town for some stabbing and jabbing,” Seeley explained. “I really like her and think she makes for a pretty cool foil. Also, she has to get nude for her spells to be cast, so y’know, thank me later.”
Issues #26-27, will also feature developments for Cassie and Vlad’s friends, Chris and Lisa and their demonic dog, Pooch. “We’ll see more concerning their sudden jump to being parents-to-be,” Seeley stated. “Plus, Pooch chases a ball. Maybe.”
The series current artist, Brian Baugh, completes his four issue run on “Hack/Slash” with issue #26-27, leading to an interesting fill-in artist while the new regular artist eases into the title. “After Brian finishes his bad ass run, issue 28 will feature ‘Archie’ artist Dan Parent on half the book for a return to Haverhill from issue 6,” Seeley explained. “The other pages will feature our NEW ongoing guy, Dan Leister, who is hot off Zenescope’s ‘Wonderland’ books. Dan starts on regular duty with 29.
The Haverhill issue is a one-off story that pits Cassie and Vlad against Mary Shelly Lovecraft, who appeared in the recent “Hack/Slash: Entry Wound Special.” “After that, we start ‘Super Sidekick Sleepover Slaughter,’ our teen superheroes meets teen killer mash-up. It may sound weird, but it actually flows pretty naturally from the stories we have coming up,” Seeley remarked. “We’re going to be featuring some teens inspired by old public domain superheroes, to dress up and try to help the world. Of course, being teenagers, the ‘helping the world’ part comes after the ‘get all cosplayed up, get drunk and get naked’ part.'”
“Super Sidekick Slaughter” will wrap up in early 2010, and right around the time that arc is coming to a close, “Hack/Slash” fans might be getting some announcements as to who will be playing Cassie and Vlad in the “Hack/Slash” feature film. “The shooting draft is being worked on now, with a plan to shoot in January or so I believe. I haven’t actually talked to the film’s new director Fredrick Bond, but from all accounts he and I share a similar vision. He just has the cooler job.”