The second installment of the series is probably my favor and takes a more tongue-in-cheek view of the characters than the previous one. Going for an even more trashy B-movie feel beneifts the characters as well as sets up the story for longer story arcs. This collection contains issues 1-17 of the original Hack/Slash ongoing as well as some of its best stories. It's not a series which is going to be for everyone but if you are the audience, then it's at its best.
The series does its best to imitate the kind of trashy horror movies I watched growing up, only with a badass murderer of murderers protagonist and her sidekick. That means they are gory, silly, and full of deliberate sexualization of the characters. Mind you, the latter is so prevalent in comics that it's hard to tell sometimes and it's kind of nice Hack/Slash at least acknowledges what it's doing. It also has a surprisingly feminist take on its characters in that it does admire their beauty, perhaps too much, while loathing misogynists as well as creeps who would hold them back because of it.
The premise for this volume is a number of different stories ranging from Cassie Hack discovering her father was formerly a scientist who worked on Slashers for the government, the infamous "Tub Club" arc, and an investigation of the real-life Suicide Girls softcore pornography site. Strangely, while the later seems like it would be a tasteless bid for readers, it's actually one of the best stories in the collection. It's also one of the stories which treats women in the sex industry as anything but disposable and the people who leer at them while disdaining them as the real creeps (which may or may not be hypocritical depending on how you feel about the subject).
This volume also contains the introduction of Georgia Peaches, Cassie Hack's first romantic interest and indication our heroine is bi. Georgia is a young woman with a desire to break into showbusiness but, unfortunately, she's among the many individuals who is marked for human sacrifice to a bunch of extra-dimensional horrors. I like the relationship between Georgia and Cassie Hack since the former brings out the softer side of our heroine. I'm not a complete fan of the relationship because I don't think our heroine would do well with domesticity (which we see later in her saga). It's nice to see bisexual characters in media and Cassie's struggle with dealing with those kind of feelings is an interesting take on the character.
A reminder for people who are going to pick up this comic but this is an R-rated comic with a focus on imitating the slasher movies of the past. That means a heavy focus on fanservice, violence, and horrible murders of likable characters. What you see is what you get and that's part of the book's appeal as it is a horror comic that has the heroine fighting against the bad guys despite things not going remotely well. If the comic has an "ethos", it is actually a rejection of the "the Final Girl must be a virginal good girl who survives because of her purity." I hated that attitude in Halloween and wasn't fond of it when it took over Friday the 13th in Part 3. Cassie Hack may not be a very sexually active teen but she's far from the Final Girl stereotype.
One of the stories which turns this from subtext to text is the ones dealing with Father Wrath as controlled by the evil "good girl" Laura Lochs. There religious fundamentalism and hypocrisy (after all, they're murderers who hate sex) are critiqued in a fun way that makes one of the iconic Hack/Slash stories. The "Tub Club" arc is one which seems like an excuse to draw attractive women in various states of undress, which it is. However, it's also a story with a large amount of characterization of the young women who are exploring their sexuality, only to get victimized by a cult leader. There's meaning there, even if it's deeply buried. Mind you, another arc is just a lengthy violent parody of the Archies comics, which is only funnier now that we've got a much darker serial-killed afflicted version of them in Riverdale. This just goes to show the sense of humor of the creators.
Hack/Slash is a book series with a lot of fun to it and I think this is probably the best of the series. Some people won't like the endless fanservice or violence but all of it is done with excellent plotting, characterization, and knowing homages to past horror as well as comic stories. In other words, this is very much a comic I like even if I know my tastes are very specific.