Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Back to School #1 review | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Zoe Thorogood is a hell of a cartoonist. I know her for her searing, formally thrilling autobiographical project It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth—one of 2022’s absolute best comics. Not long after reading and reviewing It’s Lonely, I checked out Rain—her adaptation of the Joe Hill novella of the same name. Rain is likewise a hell of a comic: an environmental horror story brought to vivid, gory life by Thorogood’s merciless spikes. With Hack/Slash: Back to School, Thorogood swaps out nature’s twisted wrath for the gloppy undeath of the Slashers—an endless crew of colorful, murderous wraiths hunted by the lonely, antiheroic, impeccably fashionable Cassandra “Cassie” Hack.

Hack/Slash: Back to School – Image

Back to School takes place early into Cassie and her gargantuan partner Vlad’s Slasher-hunting career, and Thorogood uses that to her advantage. Cassie’s resolved to hunt, but she’s not yet too far removed from her days as a regular person. Her Slasher mother’s visage haunts her. She fights ferociously but isn’t immune to freezing up. She still has much to learn about how the world she’s walking in works. And while her fashion sense is goth, it’s still a work in progress.

Hack/Slash: Back to School 3
Hack/Slash: Back to School – Image

Aesthetically, I’m struck by Thorogood’s use of body language and color (both highlights of It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth). Even in (comparatively) peaceful moments, Cassie’s ill at ease and on guard. When the first Slasher makes himself known, he moves at angles that look wrong on a human body. He’s dead; he doesn’t need to worry about injuring himself. And when a new group of Slasher hunters makes themselves known, their ability isn’t just visible in the speed with which they dispatch their target, but the absolute confidence with which they carry themselves.

Hack/Slash: Back to School #1
Hack/Slash: Back to School – Image

Likewise, Back to School sees Thorogood continue to use color—and more specifically, shifts between styles of color—to striking effect. In It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth, color is as much a matter of perspective and perception as it is image. In Back to School, it’s a signifier of energy, of disruption. Thorogood swaps the muted palette of the fast food joint where she and Vlad are eating for an intense, searingly bright one. Slashers are terrifying in part because of how far removed they are from day-by-day ordinary life—when one attacks, sending heads and arms and blood everywhere, it becomes the world.

And when Darla Ruiz, former B-movie actress (per the posters in the halls of Hunters for Hire and her Academy for Girls) turned chainsaw-wielding Slasher hunter-slash-(sorry)-tutor-for-the-next-generation steps in, changing Cassie’s life just as her mother’s turning into the monstrous Slasher known as the Lunch Lady did, Thorogood changes Back to School‘s palette again—it’s not as stark a shift as the reveal of the Slasher, but it is noticeable. The colors remain dramatic but cool down—Ruiz and her students know how to fight Slashers—they’ve built careers and educations on it.

It’s reliably striking comicscraft from Thorogood, and it’s also just plain fun to read. Cassie’s Byronic diary entries contrast nicely with her easier-going partner Vlad’s take-things-as-they-come approach to life. The action is grody and gloppy—horrific without being a wallow in misery. And the fashion? It’s impeccable.

I do not know Hack/Slash as well as I would like. I enjoyed Revival, another series from Hack/Slash‘s co-creator Tim Seeley, and I’ll read just about any comic Thorogood launches. With Back to School, she’s got me hooked on her Cassie Hack and curious about the work of those who’ve come before. Good stuff, this.

With 'Hack/Slash: Back to School' #1, Zoe Thorogood slays with style

With ‘Hack/Slash: Back to School’ #1, Zoe Thorogood slays with style

Hack/Slash: Back to School #1

I do not know Hack/Slash as well as I would like. I enjoyed Revival, another series from Hack/Slash’s co-creator Tim Seeley, and I’ll read just about any comic Thorogood launches. With Back to School, she’s got me hooked on her Cassie Hack and curious about the work of those who’ve come before. Good stuff, this.

Thorogood’s command of body language is second to none, and she gets to twist it (literally) in fun ways with the Slashers.

The Slashers themselves are marvelously gloppy and menacing.

Cassie, Vlad, and the series newcomers are a striking bunch. As a relative newcomer to Hack/Slash, I’m really taken with the introspection Thorogood writes into a comparatively-new-to-Slasher-hunting Casse.

As with Thorogood’s magnificent autobio ‘It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth,’ ‘Back to School’s use of color is tremendously effective not only in setting the mood, but in jumping it.

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