Welcome to the second in a series of reviews where I look at the various Evil Dead comic books released over the years. Last time, I looked at Dark Horse's Army of Darkness movie adaptation from 1992-93, today, I look at Dynamite Entertainment's first comic ever published: 2004's Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes limited series.
- Four issue limited series
- Issue #1 released July, 2004. #4 released October, 2004
- Written by Andy Hartnell
- Art by Nick Bradshaw
Ash has returned home from 1300 AD… a bit too early, as in he and Linda haven’t even left to go to the cabin yet. The Wise Man from 1300 AD has come to the future inform Ash of his mistake, but Ash sees it as a way to save Linda from becoming a Deadite. The pair race off to the cabin to hopefully beat the slightly younger Ash there, but get delayed when Ash remembers that the shortest way to the cabin (a bridge) was destroyed by the evil force lurking within in the woods. After taking the long way around, Ash and The Wise Man find that they are already too late to save Linda. While looking for the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the cabin, the younger Ash confronts his slightly older counterpart. The older Ash realizes that there’s no point in trying to reason with his younger-self, so The Wise Man opens the time-portal with the Ex-Mortis and sends the young Ash to 1300 AD. Now that they’ve got the Necronomicon, Ash and The Wise Man make a plan to destroy the book once and for all, but to destroy it, they need to take the book back to its birthplace, a temple in Egypt. When the two arrive just outside the temple, they find that they picked up a hitchhiker while they were at the cabin: Ash’s severed hand. The hand stabs The Wise Man in the back, killing him instantly. The hand scurries off into the temple, leaving Ash alone with no clue on what to do next. The hand then connects itself to some skeletal remains it finds, and a new Evil Ash is born. After Ash completes a series of puzzles inside the temple, he finds the new Evil Ash and his army of darkness waiting for him. As Ash is swarmed by deadites, he realizes that he probably shouldn’t have taken on this army all by himself. When it looks like it’s the end for Ash: the slightly-younger Ash, Lord Arthur and Henry The Red (and their respective armies) suddenly appeared out of a time vortex and start kicking Deadite ass. There’s a big battle for awhile, then Ash uses the gas from his chainsaw to create a fire, which burns up Evil Ash and the Deadites. The slightly younger Wise Man tells Ash that once everyone is safely back through the time-portal, throw the Necronomicon of the present inside so he can take care of it. Of course, Ash gets distracted by something (Sheila) and completely forgets about throwing the book into the portal before he rides off into the sunset, leaving it in the Egyptian desert.
Nick Bradshaw’s art style is very cartoonish and colorful, oppose to John Bolton’s dark and detailed paintings from the 1992 comic. If ever they decided to make an Evil Dead animated series, I do hope that they take inspiration from Bradshaw’s interpretation of the characters as featured in this series. And not just the characters, his backgrounds are amazingly detailed as well. His attention to these little details in this cartoon-like world is amazing, there’s always something to look at in the background or foreground, most of them being “easter eggs” (ex. Freddy Kruger’s glove in the workshed, the corpse of “Indiana Jones” outside the temple, a quick two panel cameo from the laughing deer head from Evil Dead 2).
Unlike John Bolton’s awkward one-liners and mannerisms written for the 1992 comic, Andy Hartnell’s dialog for Ash seems a bit more in-character with the Ash seen in the Army of Darkness film. It’s not hard to imagine Bruce Campbell saying these lines, although that’s because about 40% of Ash’s dialog in this comic is either an iconic line from one of the Evil Dead films or a slight variation of an iconic quote (ex: “Good, bad, I’m the guy with both chainsaws!”). Andy Hartnell did something right with this series since apparently it grabbed the attention of the writers for the Ash vs Evil Dead television show. Several elements that originated from this comic have been featured in the TV show, the main ones being the name (episode eight of AvED is titled Ashes To Ashes), a new Evil Ash growing from Ash’s severed hand, and Ash going back to the cabin to try and prevent his friends from dying. Ash vs Evil Dead will also pull from other Army of Darkness comic storylines, but I’ll talk more about that when we get to those respective stories.
It’s definitely the most “lighthearted” of Dynamite's Army of Darkness books. Would I recommend it to anyone who has never seen the Army of Darkness film? No. The story has so many callbacks and references to events from the Evil Dead films that someone just picking up this book out of curiosity would be very confused. Would I recommend it to anyone who has seen the Army of Darkness film? If you are a fan of the Evil Dead series and curious about the comics, this is a pretty good place to start. You can look for all four individual issues released by Dynamite Entertainment and Devil's Due Publishing, get it in the Army of Darkness Omnibus Volume 1, the trade paperback edition, or digitally on Comixology.
8 chainsaws out of 10.