Written by: Andy Hartnell
Penciled by: Nick Bradshaw
Inked by: ?
Colored by: Jim Charalampidis
Lettered by: Josh Johnson
Editor: Kerry Schindl & Shawn Spurlock
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
Quick pair of questions before we begin…
1. Have you seen the movie ‘Army of Darkness’?
2. If yes to question one, did you enjoy it?
If you answered no to question one, go see the movie but don’t read this review.
If you answered no to question two, go read my review of Small Gods instead of this one. You won’t find much worth reading here, I’m afraid.
Now that that’s out of the way, an explanation may be in order. The reason I asked these questions is because this book is, much like the movie series it is based on, an all-or-nothing gambit. Either you are going to totally enjoy it because its strengths totally eclipse its flaws or you will see this as one more example of why comic book adaptations of movies are a bad idea.
If you’ve seen Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, you know the story so far. Not that it matters because the whole thing is retold for us in flashback at the start of Issue One and a new flashback at the start of this issue. The quick version is that S-Mart clerk and badass-at-large Ash went on vacation in the woods, fought a bunch of zombies, lost his hand, got lost in time, killed more zombies and returned back to his proper home and time only to fight more zombies.
This series picks up where Army of Darkness ended. Literally, seconds after the ending, when an old wise man who helped Ash in the past appears to tell him that they sent him back in time a day before he left. It falls to Ash to become a hero once again, as they must move to find and destroy the true Necrocomicion; an evil magic book which is responsible for all the undead springing up all over the place.
As this issue opens, Ash and The Wise Man (who gets no other name) have recovered the book and must now travel back to when the book was first created; the one place where it can be destroyed. Naturally, the book itself is far from helping them with this and is summoning all the assistance it can get. And it gets a hand from Ash’s severed hand, which has been possessed by pure evil and put to work in a very literal interpretation of what happens to idle hands.
Of course if you’ve seen the movies, this will all seem very familiar. It will be a welcome familiarity, of course, but only we dedicated Dead-heads will think so. Still, there’s a surprise on the final page that will… um, surprise everyone.
The artwork is cartoonish, but perfectly suited to the source material. Army of Darkness itself danced on the border between cartoon and serious horror/action, so the exaggerated limbs and expressions on the figures here are not unwelcome. Indeed, Bradshaw’s art looks like a twisted mix between the films of Don Bluth and the art of J. Scott Campbell.