Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nailbiter/Hack/Slash #1 Advanced Review: Buckaroo Butchers vs. Slashers

By: Nicole D'Andria

Two iconic horror series, Nailbiter and Hack/Slash crossover in this issue.  This one-shot has two stories, one written by the Nailbiter creative team and one by the Hack/Slash creative team. Is there a lot of nail biting, hacking and slashing?

The first story was penned by Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Birthright) and illustrated by Mike Henderson (Nailbiter, Masks & Mobsters). It takes place a few years before the arrest of the titular Nailbiter serial killer and introduces a new serial killer from Buckaroo, Oregon. For those unfamiliar with the series, Buckaroo is the home of 16 (only 15 in this story) serial killers and is seen as a breeding ground for crazy. This new killer, dubbed Mister Fatal, targets people where they have fun. So slasher killer Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad visit a carnival in the hopes of catching the killer.

I like how the Nailbiter, Warren, is inserted into the story. It’s a lot of fun for the reader who knows he’s a serial killer and watch how Cassie treats him when they first meet. The dialogue he and Cassie share is interesting and the situation they find themselves in toward the end of the story will pique the reader’s interest but does have an unavoidable flaw. We all know no harm will come to Warren, right? After all, this story takes place before the events of Nailbiter. So that’s a bit of a buzzkill right there. However, the events in the story are still enjoyable and the ending is very ominous.

The artwork from Mike Henderson is solid as usual. I enjoy the colors and the amount of detail Henderson puts into the carnival. My favorite art is hands down the second page. It’s a one page spread that transitions from a murder to a carnival. You actually don’t see the more grusome part because colorist Adam Guzowski puts it in shadow and just surrounds it with red. This actually makes it more effective, allowing the reader’s imagination to run wild.

The second story was written by Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Witchblade) and illustrated by Emilio Laiso. The story has a lot more of Cassie and Vlad interacting with each other which was lacking in the first issue, but does that make it better?

Cassie and Vlad return from Buckaroo after receiving a tip from Warren about Cassie’s mother possibly being born in the town. Will Cassie discover her lineage harkens back to Buckaroo? Will Cassie and Vlad survive the mysterious Lucha Eliminador?

The story opens in a coffee shop and does a good job establishing Cassie and Vlad’s business. Plus there’s some snarky lines about hipsters.

The antagonist of the story is the Lucha Eliminador. Lucha’s origin is briefly touched upon in some forced expository dialogue. It’s nothing special. At least Lucha is an imposing foe. As for Warren, he’s mostly absent from this story which is disappointing, as are the rest of the characters from the Nailbiter series besides the owner of Buckaroo’s own serial killer store which makes an appearance. There were also a few plot conveniences in this story that bothered me but I don’t want to spoil them. I’ll just say one involves a wrestling ring and the other a can of gravy.

The artwork here by Emilio Laiso was also solid. While the first story had more details in the background (at times) this story has a lot more character details. The emotions on characters faces are easy to read. There’s also a decent cemetery scene with a fog effect that adds a little to the atmosphere. I never really found myself blown away by the artwork though and struggled to find the right words to describe it.

There were several disappointments in this one-shot. One disappointment involves the misleading cover. Also, I would have liked to see Cassie and Vlad interact with other characters in the Nailbiter universe. Cassie and Vlad could have teamed up with Finch or Sheriff Crane. I could also see them meeting Alice who would probably admire Cassie. Maybe throw in Brian Michael Bendis? 

The first story was more interesting than the Lucha Eliminator, but both stories have fun characters. The artwork in both was never poor but didn’t always stand out to me. What I really enjoyed was the dynamic between Cassie and Warren in the first story and how this dynamic crossed over into the second story when Cassie talks about how she relates to Warren.  It is a flawed crossover that could have gone in a different (and possibly better) direction, but you can still enjoy the iconic characters and stories.

I give Nailbiter/Hack/Slash #1 a 6.5/10.

On a side note the editor in me was bothered by Warren saying “As least I don’t think they do” around page 17 in my digital copy.

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