Friday, November 24, 2006

Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys #3

Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys #3, January 2006, Devil's Due Publishing
writer: Tim Seeley
artist: Dave Crosland
colorist: Roald Munoz
letterer: Brian Crowley

Just a few days ago, I was reminiscing about the Christmas mornings of my childhood and, specifically, the moat of wrapped action figures that always awaited me around the base of our Christmas tree. Overjoyed at the sight of so many Masters of the Universe or Super Powers toys, I never really thought about the great lengths my parents and grandparents went through to assure a happy holiday morn. I wonder, in the early '80s, the days when grown men and women fought for Cabbage Patch Kids, did my mom and dad brave Black Friday for the last Stratos or Brainiac on the pegs?

My girlfriend and I did the Black Friday bonanza today, although we didn't start before daybreak, like so many others in the Valley of the Sun. No, we woke up around 10 a.m., grabbed a bite to eat, and still had plenty of day left to hit two Targets, a Wal-Mart, a Toys 'R Us, and three comic book stores, two of which offered some fruitful discount bins. The selection in Phoenix doesn't seem as diverse, particularly in the secondary publishers' department, but the issues I did find were new to me -- especially Hack/Slash, which is in this case, ironically, about toys. In the first act, Great Dane and Thunder Guard, obvious spoofs of Liono and He-Man, are battling in a dream-scape tainted by a manipulative nightmarish goblin, inside the head of teenage paranormal warrior Cassie Hack. To the li'l fiend's delight, Hack earns her name by making bloody short work of the '80s alumni, just in time for a battle royale with a Pokemon reject army. Still, when playtime's over, the goblin puts Cassie on the ropes, until her dream ends the way it does every night -- with the dark memory of Cass's zombie mom slaughtering her classmates in the school cafeteria, and young Hack put her first two bullets in a murderer's face. A horrifying moment, but in the case, oddly satisfying, as well, as the villain of the story meets his timely demise. With dreams like that, every day would be black, let alone the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Although this issue was the last of a story arc, the inside front cover's plot synopsis brought me up to speed quite concisely, and with an action-packed conclusion, this issue was an entertaining read in and of itself. The haunting but compelling visuals reinforce our hero's internal struggle while maintaining a light-hearted fare with the He-Man/Thundercats/Pokemon riff. The monster element, from Hack's helpless partner Slash to the nameless nightmare puppetmaster to the zombified murderous mother, seem to be commonplace -- not a mystery, but a reality that needs a quick dose of vanquishing. Hack retains some semblance of adolescence ("The little girl in me in me is thinking: This is soooo cool.") while acknowledging her circumstances and embracing a fearlessness ("But the lil' girl in me is pretty much dead.), establishing her a sympathetic hero. The artist spares no expense at showing off her young physique, which never hurt, either. (Nice cover, I do say so myself. Google/Image it.) The monsters within, and one's inner child, take on a whole new meaning for Hack/Slash, and I'm digging the twist.

My inner child grew up a little today, experiencing what my parents must've endured on Black Friday lo those many years ago. Of course, as this issue reveals, my inner child could have it much worse. Sure, I'm left buying my own action figures from here on out (and on a rare occasion, my mom will actually still wrap them by Christmas morn), but all things considered, I have no reason to complain.

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