Travelling Man's Blog

Review:Ash and the Army of Darkness Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Steve Niles

Art by Dennis Calero

Letters by Marshall Dillon

Main Cover by Ben Templesmith

Published by Dynamite

Army of Darkness, and the Evil Dead movies as a hole, are glorious. They’re a perfect storm of wonderfully ludicrous, hideously gory and from time to time deeply unsettling. The recent Evil Dead reboot for example, was actually a pretty straight up and down horror movie, and did some interesting stuff with the source material.  It’s rumoured that there will be one sequel to that and then either Army of Darkness 2 or a team up movie between the two leads. This is the sort of nerdvana moment that would have been impossible in a pre-Avengers world and, let’s face it, is pretty unlikely even now, but it’s nice to dream. Especially as even if it doesn’t happen, we’ll always have Paris.

Paris, in this case, being Army of Darkness. And, now, this comic.

Niles’ script picks up from the end of the movie (Well, one of the endings) and plants Ash, and S-Mart and a couple of very unfortunate co-worked, back in olden times. Gloriously, olden times looks exactly like it did in the movie; a distinctly American looking rocky plain. Equally gloriously, Niles manages to throw some vintage Ash moments in there without it being a quote fest. Even better, the plot is a smart extrapolation of what went before; absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there is nothing more powerful than the Necronomicon. Ash may be done with the book, but the book isn’t done with him and as the issue closes he has a whole new mess to clear up. It’s an interesting idea, and you can hear the gears grind a little as the quintessential done-in-one movie is stretched out to an ongoing series, but it takes the strain. If anything, the stripped down storytelling that Raimi pioneered works very well here, Niles able to nest the core concepts of Army of Darkness inside his own work very simply.

It’s Calero and Dillon, who, in some ways, have the harder job. They have to not only match Raimi’s chaotic visual style but hit clear likenesses for the characters and give a sense of scale to the events. The likenesses are bang on (The chin has landed, ladies and gentlemen) whilst the scale is equal parts epic and just a little guerrilla, like the movie itself. It’s the panel work where the book shines though, with Niles and Calero teaming up to create frenetic, cracked glass style panel layouts that give you all the feverish visuals of Raimi without the crash zooms. Although let’s face it, we could always use a little crash zoom…

Rounded off by impressive, precision lettering from Marshall Dillon, this is a book any Evil Dead fan will enjoy. The concept strains a little, at first, but by the end of the issue you get an idea where things are going and it’s not a direction Ash is going to like at all. Regardless, the King’s back so shop smart, shop S-Mart (And T Man) and pick up his first issue today.

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