Hack/Slash issue #5 Story by Tim Seeley, Art by Kyle Strahm, Covers by Jenny Frison (A) & Rodin Esquejo (B) Letters by Crank and Published by Image Comics
Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
THE RETURN OF FANTOMAH!!!!! Yes, we’re talking about the very first female superhero predating even Wonder Woman and created by Fletcher Hanks. Fantomah makes her triumphant return to the pages of Hack/Slash with her debut in issue #29 of the first ongoing series back at Devil’s Due Publishing. Her return promises the destruction of the Black Lamp Society. Issue #5 is a great jumping on point to the series and a fun one off. Also, there’s awesome guest artist Kyle Strahm, and fantastic covers by Jenny Frison and Rodin Esquejo.
If you’re not at all familiar with either Fantomah or Fletcher Hanks, the opening pages will fill you in on the crazy storytelling and even more bizarre character of Fantomah, the protector of the jungle. Here is the cliff notes version: Fantomah is a beautiful, voluptuous blonde with multiple powers and if you piss her off, she turns into a blue skull-faced monster, keeping her current body state. Jumping ahead to the present, Fantomah finds the jungle in ruins and harvested by loggers. With no explanation, she sets out and finds Cassie Hack. Fantomah promises her that if she helps, they could put an end to the Black Lamp Society once and for all, who are supposedly involved with destroying the jungle. At this point, your senses should be tingling for the simple reason that Fantomah, a “God”, chooses to ride in the Hack/Slash-mobile instead of using one of her many powers. She also does little to no fighting except to stop Vlad from killing a Slasher dog. Finally, the gang enters the Connecticut headquarters that looks more like Martha Stewart’s house than one belonging to a secret cult that worships and creates Slashers. The true story is revealed when they confront the so-called leader of the Black Lamp Society. No spoilers here but Cassie, for a brief moment, is presented with an opportunity that could alter her life, work (killing Slashers) and save the life of a dear friend but at the cost of her humanity. Also in this issue, Cat takes off for home but Chris sends Pooch to follow and protect her.
Seeley shows us once again why he is one of Horror Haven’s favorite writers as he hits his stride in this issue. He channels Hanks so perfectly with Fantomah’s actions, dialogue and view of humans, men more specifically. We love the scene where Cassie finds Fantomah in her shower, a great homage to the movie Psycho. At the end, there is a sympathetic moment with Fantomah, a great standout in this issue, that allows you to see the toll the years have taken on her which is then put back into perspective by Vlad as he is the true voice of humanity in this book.
Although Strahm’s scratchy artwork is a break from the regular art of the series, it lends itself to the creepiness and horrific nature of the monsters in this book. His take on Cassie is clean, hot and angry while the deformed Vlad plays off well against his gentle and compassionate soul.
Both covers are first-rate. Jenny Frison’s is beautiful and a great take on tarot cards, and we’re (meaning me) calling dibs on the original art for this cover if she decides to sell it. Esquejo’s Cover B is a fun play on Morning Glories that is very creepy since we really liked Fantomah in the schoolgirl outfit. At least Fantomah won’t land us with a perv tag since she’s over 60 years old.
Jump aboard the Hack/Slash Train, grab a bag of popcorn and watch the silver screen slasher movies play out in comic form.
Don’t forget to check out our sister site www.horrorhaven.com and click on The Fright Channel, the web’s best 24-hour horror network, to see what’s playing. Follow us on Twitter @FrightChannel to keep up with the latest news and updates, and friend us on Facebook. Subscribe to our RSS feed and never miss an update.