Written by: Adrienne Clark
I hadn’t read all of Hack/Slash before reading this story line. Many of the Hack/Slash stories are one shots (a stand-alone issue with a story that isn’t part of an ongoing series) so it’s usually not necessary to have read every previous story. Son of Samhain (story by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley) followed suit as a stand-alone mini series; however, you would do well to be at least somewhat familiar with the series when you dive in.
Let’s do a quick run-down of the 5-part plot.
Cassie Hack is hiding from herself by working as a bounty hunter. In a former life she hunted a different kind of prey–monsters. When another infamous monster hunter named Delroy tempts her out of retirement, they find themselves in Mexico uncovering a monster (no pun intended) plot to bring to life the God, Attan-Soolu.
The perspective toggles back and forth between our monster-hunting heroes and Morinto, the leader of a group of monsters who spends most of his time waxing poetic about the plight of monsters. Humanity defeated them centuries ago and drove them underground. Now, Morinto is building an army to return to the surface and take it back
The climax comes when Hack and Delroy discover a mysterious kid being held captive by the monsters. The hunters fight to free him. He returns their bravery by biting Hack’s arm and running away.
Morinto confronts the mythical god beast, who has been made only to destroy, and listens to no one but Attan-Soolu. Fortunately, Morinto has perfected his brain-controlling bugs. With no effort at all, Morinto conquers the beast. Now the god beast believes Morinto is Attan-Soolu and will what whatever this monster leader wants.
Hack and Delroy track the mysterious boy that ran away. It turns out that he has a murderous streak as well. His name is October (Ocky for short), and Hack comments on how familiar he looks.
Hack and Delroy take a moment away from monster hunting to discover more about Ocky’s past. It turns out there is a reason he looks so familiar to Hack.
Morinto’s past is revealed. It turns out that his mother was a member of an occult organization called the Dark Order. When she passed she prayed to have her powers passed to her son. Between this gift of dark power and the god beast, Moritno is able to build the monster army he needs to go to the surface.
The battle is on between our hunters and the monster army. While Hack fights to survive against Morinto’s mind control bugs, Delroy takes on the god beast all on his own. That’s all I can say without spoilers so, on to…
Hack and Ocky (seriously, has there ever been a less intimidating nickname?) take a moment to reflect on whether they should return to the battle or make a run for it. They know what choice they have to make, and once they do, they hatch a plan to send the murderous monsters back beneath the surface. But, can evil ever really be defeated?
Our heroes drive off into the sunset even as a new threat begins to take form.
This fun, if somewhat basic, story puts the classic “Hero’s Journey” structure to good use. It leans heavily on the reader’s familiarity with the classic structure. This way the story can focus on action rather than character development.
The characters are delightfully simple in both their motivations and their dialogue. I say delightfully simple because that is exactly what I’m looking for in a story like this. Cassie Hack is a smart-mouthed monster hunter who never loses her cool. Her sarcasm and bravery fire on all cylinders at all times and can only be matched by her empathy when she meets someone in need. She’s tortured, too, but only in so far as it helps break up the actions scenes and give her a motivation.
This story centers around a potential monster war, This simplicity of character was a good choice to compliment the story. If the action had been complex, but the characters one-dimensional (or vice versa) then I would have questioned every moment. For example, in the course of a page Hack kills several dozen monsters. Had her character been more complex, I would have wanted a better explanation for her abilities. Maybe spend time with her showing Ocky or Delroy how to do what she does. But, as it is, she’s strong, they’re evil, done and done. Works for me.
What did slow the story down were several passages of Morinto pontificating on the state of evil, humankind, and his desire to rule. I understand that the writers had to give him something to do, and they needed to build Morinto up as a threat that the reader would find believable, but it didn’t work for me. When you’re going to give a character time to say something that’s meant to be profound, it better be a pretty unique perspective. Instead it just bogged down the story with something akin to a passage from a teenage goth’s journal.
The imagery (by Emilio Laiso) is spot on, with a focus on shape over detail. Every monster is bigger or badder than the last, making for a beautifully intimidating army. Although sometimes the similar coloring on the baddies would confuse me for a few panels, which would take me out of the story as I scrambled to make sense of who was talking and if I knew them.
Hack/Slash: Son of Samhain is a fun comic for anyone who likes the horror genre. Although this miniseries is without some of the more famous guest stars that people have come to love (check out the Evil Dead crossover for a really good time), it’s still a totally readable monster story. Killing monsters is what Cassie Hack does best, and it’s always fun to watch someone kill (OK, pun intended that time) at what they love.