Army of Darkness #1 Review

Written by: Cullen Bunn

Art by: Larry Watts

Publisher: Dynamite

Hail to the king, baby. In the pantheon of filmdom there are few characters that seem like they’d be more ideal for being adapted to comics than Ash. We’re talking about a character that fought Deadites in a cabin in the woods, had that retconned and did it again, chopped his own hand if and replaced it with a chainsaw, got sucked into a portal to the dark ages, ended up battling a demonic version of himself, and did it all with enough catch phrases to make Schwarzenegger jealous. This means Ash is a great character to drop into all sorts of weird situations, as long as there are Deadites there for him to take out with his boom stick. In this first issue of the newest run of Army of Darkness we’ve got Ash making his way onto a space shuttle. Yep, Ash in space.

While Ash is a versatile character, he’s also one that is going to sink or swim based on how well his comedic elements are pulled off. Campbell and Raimi obviously imparted him with a lot of on the nose, signature humor, and it’s a thin line to walk between getting that right and making him boring or annoying. Happily, Cullen Bunn seems to have a handle on walking that thin line. Ash doesn’t have a sidekick, so most of his character is expressed through inner dialogue with those necessary one liners thrown in, and, so far at least, the character feels like Bruce Campbell in comic book form. There’s call backs to lines from the films, but not to the point of feeling like Bunn is lacking creativity in what he’s writing. Sending Ash into space was a great idea, and, in addition to the overall interesting premise, Bunn writes in some intriguing specifics that make good use of his setting.

There’s a lot that works about the art, by Larry Watts, as well. His lines, combined with colors by Aikau Oliva, bring an exaggerated style to the book without taking the aesthetic too far afield of the films. It’s like the best Saturday morning cartoon adaptation of Army of Darkness that fans could hope for, and I think bringing that cartoony quality to the property is an ingenious move. It would have been incredibly easy for the creative team to have said, “Evil Dead, that’s horror, so the art should be shadowy and dark.” This would have led to a book that was much more visually akin to the majority of horror comics currently being published. The fact that they didn’t go that route sets the book apart, and, after all, Sam Raimi’s films have always had a certain cartoony quality to them. I love that the art team took that as a jumping off point, and Ash feels right at home.

If the creative team keeps up what they’ve started with this issue, then this should end up being a great run. So, come get some.