I love the Evil Dead movies. No hiding it, no shame, these movies are the bee’s fucking knees. Bruce Campbell? Forget about it. I have followed this guy ever since I saw him on Hercules, the Legendary Journeys as a kid. I’ve read both of his books. I EVEN LIKED MY NAME IS BRUCE. Sam Raimi? While I may not have liked his forays into the superhero genre (as mentioned last week) I do like most of his other films, and, as someone who was once (and is in some ways still) an aspiring filmmaker, I have an enormous respect for his ingenuity and the techniques he developed as a low-budget filmmaker.
I had heard on the commentary to Army of Darkness that Sam and Ivan Raimi had written some comics based on the movies, and it sounded alright to me. More hilarious horror adventures with our hero Ash? Sounded like a good idea to me. So, one day my girlfriend stopped by our local comic book store looking for something, saw the comic and picked it up for me.
It was not written by Sam or Ivan Raimi. Or any Raimi, for that matter.
Summary: It opens with a series of references to the opening and ending of Army of Darkness, with bits of exposition about the state of the world (it seems there were some comic s in the story before this, including Marvel Zombies), peppered in. Evil Ash Prime, as he is called, has corrupted the world, and now humans are barely surviving in a world ruled by Deadites. Ash stumbles out of the cave where the portal dropped him to make a blatant joke/reference to the end of the director’s cut to Army of Darkness. Pulling himself together after weeping over the potential loss of his “Sugarbaby”, he picks himself up and saunters off, right into a gang of Deadites. At least we are told they are Deadites, because except for the one that looks like a giant Satyr, these guys could be a bunch of bikers for all we know.
“Suck it, Joker, I’ve got two shoe-blades!”
Ash easily defeats them, because he’s FUCKING ASH, and then we cut to Evil Ash’s layer, where it is implied he is violating them in the other room, in ways that cannot be described. Waiting in his throne room is some evil Deadite advisor lady, and…DUH DUH DUH! Sugarbaby is there! And she’s a Deadite! Another thing that wasn’t clear thanks to the art. And that we’re given no reason to care about.
Evil Ash comes out complaining that because he never got to kill Ash, his life is empty. His evil advisor woman says that all he would have to do is kill himself and then he could fight Ash on the other side. Sounds like a reasonable way to get out of this comic to me!
We cut back to Ash, walking around, looking lost, when an old man claiming to be a seer starts harassing him. Ash’s character has apparently reverted completely to his beginning of Army of Darkness personality, and tells the old man to get bent, right before the old man starts showing him visions of the past and future, saying how Evil Ash got powerful, and what Ash needs to do to stop it, by finding a few chosen warriors. It also gives Ash the chance to make a really unfunny and nonsensical Planet of the Apes reference. Joy.
“Is that Gorro? Ash you fool, this isn’t Planet of the Apes, it’s the Mortal Kombat movie! RUN!”
So, his fate determined for him like always, Ash goes forth to face his destiny.
Writing: So, the idea of this story is actually pretty good. Ash taking the fight to the Deadites in a post-apocalyptic future sounds like sliced bread, but it somehow became Cazu Marzu (look it up, by all means) along the way. One big foul up was the humor. Or rather the attempt at it.
You see, in place of Ash’s hilarious one liners or any real comedy, there are pop-culture references and horrifying attempts at wit. Here is my FAVORITE.
Where to begin with this? It’s a stupid joke. This sort of humor isn’t really funny when it’s topical. So after the fact like this, it comes off as the writer saying something tasteless and stupid and then elbowing us in the ribcage. With a chainsaw.
Also, I think it was pretty clear that Ash is from the 70’s-80’s era. So when did he find out about any of this? It makes this comic horribly dated AND anachronistic to its own story. Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Ash? Even for a pretty one-note character in what amounts to a Gore-Comedy, he still had character growth in Army of Darkness, and in many ways even became the hero that he was destined to be, which this comic references several times. That comes across to some degree, but it just feels like the character in the comic is simply a cheap archetype of the man we all know and love. Even with these gripes, the story is still a bit intriguing, if a little stock with all of the coolness and humor washed away.
Art: The art, while decent, suffers from a lack of continuity with the story, and with Ash’s face. We all know Bruce Campbell has a big chin, guys. You don’t have to have it trying to eat the rest of his face in every other panel.
If there is any complaint beyond that, it’s that nothing is really memorable beyond the cool, if a bit muddy, cover. And the opening few pages with the Necronomicon are done very well.
“Yeah, with a knife” “Or a Bigger Knife” “FUCKING KNIFE”
Overall: This comic was at best mediocre, even through the rose colored glasses of a fan of the franchise, who really wanted to enjoy it. With piss-poor humor, and the man, Ash, apparently being replaced by a conventioner cosplaying as Ash, I can’t recommend it to anyone, especially new readers, as there is a good deal of continuity that is missing without previous issues and Marvel Zombies. And if there isn’t, then the writer is just lazy.
Next week I will be looking at another comic starring the S-Mart CSR from Housewares, one that involves some other horror icons as well…and what’s funny, as I read the ads in the back of this book, is that my statement hardly narrows it down.