A deliciously deranged opening chapter for this new saga in the Hack/Slash world, crafted by one of the best creators in comics today.

Review: HACK/SLASH: Back to School #1 – Academy for Trained Killers

From acclaimed comics creator Zoe Thorogood (Rain; It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth) comes the newest addition to one of the medium’s bloodiest sagas in Hack/Slash: Back to School #1. Originally created by Tim Seeley and Stefano Caselli, Thorogood adds her own twisted humor and unmistakable style to this demented world with hilariously disturbing effect. With a plot that mixes humanity with the absurdly grotesque alongside phenomenal artwork, Back to School will be a must-read for series fans and horror readers alike.

“Slasher hunter Cassie Hack is only just getting used to her man-monster partner, Vlad, when she’s drawn into a new case involving a murderous bunny mascot, dead kids, and an entire squad of maladjusted teenage serial-killer hunters!”

Writing & Plot

Anyone familiar with Zoe Thorogood’s work over the last couple of years know how good she is at writing traumatized protagonists. Her streak continues with Hack/Slash: Back to School #1, albeit with a much lighter tone than her previous work. There are few modern writers who are better suited to creating a chapter of Image staple Cassandra Hack’s life than Thorogood. The Eisner-winning cartoonist takes a hold of the damaged slasher hunter fresh off of her first encounter with a slasher. While sharing some fast-food with her new monster hunting partner, a big lovable killer named Vlad, she’s confronted by another slasher – and formally introduced to the wide world of slasher slaying. Thorogood’s clearly having a lot of fun writing characters new and old for Seeley and Caselli’s beloved world of bloody horror comedy. Her script strikes a great balance between twisted humor and genuine humanity. While killing crazed slashers in bunny costumes makes for a great time, there’s no mistaking that Cassandra has gone through something wildly traumatic. Her working through that trauma while integrating herself into a school full of other traumatized girls adds a layer of depth to what could easily be a paper-thin comic story. The cast of ladies from the slasher school are all wonderfully varied and unique in their own ways. This especially goes for the chain-smoking & professionally gaudy headmaster Darla Ritz, and the bubbly Lollipop Chainsaw homage in Boo. Thorogood’s brand of disturbed humor blends in perfectly with the material laid out before, making for a comic that will be a familiar yet surprising treat for Hack/Slash fans and a blast for newcomers.

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Art Direction

Unsurprisingly, Zoe Thorogood’s visual work in Hack/Slash: Back to School #1 is a stunning menagerie of bloody delight. Thorogood’s work in her original stories has demonstrated her ability to make some truly unique monstrosities, so her work here feels almost rudimentary by comparison. Her takes on Cassandra and Vlad are spot-on with Seeley and Caselli’s designs, but her distinct sequential direction and animations make them feel like her own creations. Thorogood’s designs for Darla Ritz, Boo, and the rest of the cast are rife with detail, with their own unique spins on school “uniforms.” It’s easy to see how much fun Thorogood must have designing character looks on top of drawing over-the-top gore. Speaking of gore, it wouldn’t be a Hack/Slash book without a lot of it, and Thorogood fires on all cylinders with her renderings of decapitations and smashed organs. Her color art is similar to her work on her other comics, but with a variety of tones that fit with this universe’s atmosphere while filling it with surprising shifts. She uses very little shading, instead relying on lighting and heavy pencils to add more dynamic shades to her colors. In tandem with her panel direction, sometimes creates two completely different scenes split in the middle or at a diagonal. She uses this approach early in the comic as a flashback for Cassandra, and it’s one of the cleverest approaches to a one I’ve seen in the medium. Overall, Thorogood knocks the visual storytelling out of the park with her unique artistic approach.


Hack/Slash: Back to School #1 is a devious blast of a first issue, and a perfect fit into this established world. Zoe Thorogood takes her patented approach to writing dark humor and traumatized characters and applies them to Seeley and Caselli’s world with a natural ease. Her visuals are brilliant, as she utilizes her singular art direction to great effect, introducing us to characters new and old through her distinct creative lens. Be sure to grab this new issue when it hits shelves on 10/18!


Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
A deliciously deranged opening chapter for this new saga in the Hack/Slash world, crafted by one of the best creators in comics today.Review: HACK/SLASH: Back to School #1 - Academy for Trained Killers