Ceej says… Slashermania review (Freaktown Comics)

Publisher: Freaktown Comics
Writer: Russell Hillman
Pencils: Ron Joseph, CJ Camba
Inks: Jake Isenberg, Ron Joseph, CJ Camba
Colours: Harry Saxon
Lettering: Sergio Calvet
Release Date: 19th July 2017

After a series of unfortunate delays, Slashermania – the latest horror offering from the fine folks at Freaktown Comics – finally comes to ComiXology this week.  We’ve covered the announcement of the series a couple of times in the past, but for those of you who aren’t aware, here’s the gist; every year, the world’s greatest serial killers come together for the “Slashies”, a contest where they cut a swath through a summer camp filled with troubled teens, competing against each other (in front of a live TV audience!) in a variety of categories including “Best Male Solo Death”, “Coitus Interruptus”, “Biggest Multiple Death” and, of course, the coveted “Slasher of the Year” award.

At the end of each night’s festivities, we return to the studio where hosts Todd Morton and Sanquine Slaughter consult with a variety of guest experts as they recap the evening’s events, with statistics and play-by-play analysis that would make ESPN proud.  The pace is fairly unrelenting throughout the course of the book as the fifty teens are knocked off in rapid fashion by the assembled killers in a variety of creative and brutally violent ways.

We’re bombarded with classic character tropes throughout, from brash jocks to sex-crazed co-eds and geeky losers, and even the “slashers” themselves each have their roots buried in iconic serial killer archetypes. Pretty much every cliché in the book is thrown against the wall here, and while it’s almost impossible to keep up with exactly who’s being off’ed, the strength of the artwork – not to mention the clear affection writer Russell Hillman has for the source material – keeps the pages turning throughout.

The downside of writer Hillman’s rapid-fire delivery is that it’s practically impossible to build up any kind of connection with any of the teens (assuming that’s even the point). In that respect, I suppose there’s no denying that Slashermania stays true to spirit of the movies which serve as its inspiration, with the killers themselves serving as the unquestioned stars and their unwilling victims feeling like little more than cannon fodder throughout the course of these 124 pages.

The artwork is, as you’d expect, pretty full-on at times. The team of Ron Joseph, CJ Camba and Jake Isenberg utilise a faintly exaggerated approach that almost feels a little cartoony at times, but which does little to soften the relentless onslaught of blood-soaked violence and full frontal nudity. Understandably, the teens do tend to blend into one another from visual point of view, with only a small handful of characters standing out from the rest of the herd, but the designs for the slashers themselves are absolutely stellar, from the twisted menace of the “The March Hare” to the elegant insanity of “The Virtuoso”.

It’s a great looking book for sure, and it leans heavily on the artwork throughout, while the story – such as it is – frequently feels like just an excuse to link from one grizzly execution to the next.  There are some choice lines of dialogue though, and a neat meta message about the consumption of horror and the desensitisation of society, but for the most part the book keeps things light and shlocky, rather than digging into the realms of existential or psychological horror.

Ultimately then, Slashermania is a book that takes great pleasure in paying homage to the classic slasher movies of old, for better or worse, providing bucketloads of gore, gratuitous nudity and creative dismemberments aplenty.  It’s a fairly flimsy but undeniably enjoyable read, with an unapologetically tongue-in-cheek look at the inherent absurdity of the slasher genre, and  it comes highly recommended for anyone who loves watching hard-partying teens getting their brutal comeuppance

The digital copy of Slashermania available on ComiXology from 19th July, priced $10.99.  You can also grab yourself a physical book available now from the Freaktown Comics Big Cartel.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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