Welcome to the third part in my series of reviews of the various Evil Dead comics released over the years. Today, I'm looking at Space Goat Publishing's Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn series.
- Three issues (although it was released digitally in six parts)
- First Space Goat Publishing comic based on a movie property.
- Written by Frank Hannah
Ash Williams is gone, sucked back in time somewhere with a demon that had been plaguing him for two nights in a row, and Annie Knowby is left to die alone on the floor of her family’s cabin with a dagger stuck in her back. A few moments after the time portal closed by itself, the Knowby Cabin (including the still somewhat alive Annie) falls into Hell. She walks outside to try and get her bearings when she hears her parents call out for her, asking for her to help save their souls. Annie also discovers that the Kandarian Dagger has the ability to kill demons with a single stab and absorb their souls into the dagger itself. Realizing that she’s gonna need help to save her parents and find a way out of Hell, she creates a soulless simulacrum copy of Ash from his severed hand, however, this Ash doesn’t remember anything after his girlfriend’s severed head bit his hand. Annie gives him a quick rundown of what happened after that, and Ash gets angry at Annie for sending the “real” him back in time with the evil force. Annie tells him that while she works on a gateway that will take her back to the living world, he is to go out and rescue her parents. The simulacrum Ash fights his way through demons using the Kandarian Dagger, until he reaches the ruler of Hell itself, Rabisu, who has swallowed the souls of Henrietta and Raymond Knowby. Ash guts Rabisu with the Dagger, and puts the souls of the Knowbys into the dagger. Meanwhile Annie has finished the gateway, and the two get the Hell out of Hell. Once back in the living world, Annie realizes that if she wants to release the soul of her parents, she’ll have to release all the demonic souls also trapped inside. As Annie and Ash watch as her parents move on into the afterlife, and Annie says that there’s going to be a price to pay for releasing those evil spirits…
Issue #1 was penciled and inked by two people: Oscar Bazaldua and Barnaby Bagenda. The first issue reminds me of a more cartoonish version of John Bolton’s art for Dark Horse’s Army of Darkness limited series in 1992 and his Evil Dead reimagining in 2008, dark colors are used everywhere to create an ominous atmosphere (as it should, it takes place in Hell after all) and even things that should have bright colors are dulled. Bagenda will leave after the first issue, and Bazaldua will continue the series by himself. The second and third issue are very colorful, and it’s a bit jarring when you’ve been introduced to this dark world and then suddenly everything is popping off the pages with vibrant reds, greens, and blues, but it’s alright after you get use to it. One of the things I look for in these comics is if the characters look like the actors who portrayed them onscreen, and Bazaldua does a pretty good job at re-creating the likeness of the 26 or 27 year old Bruce Campbell that appeared in the Evil Dead 2 film in his own style, however, the same cannot be said for the members of the Knowby family. Annie Knowby (kinda sorta) looks like Sarah Berry, Henrietta doesn’t look like Lou Hancock, and there was no attempt to make Raymond Knowby look like John Peakes (hell, he goes from having a full head of hair in issue one to being bald by issue 3).
Frank Hannah’s take on the world of Evil Dead was pretty refreshing after so many years of “meh” and “It’s ok I guess”-tier stories from Dynamite’s Army of Darkness comics. Ash is written more like the way he was in the original Evil Dead and first half of Evil Dead 2, not like his cocky badass attitude presented in the Army of Darkness film, and good example of this is when Annie informs the simulacrum Ash that he’s in Hell, he seems almost afraid to walk outside the Cabin’s door. Speaking of Annie, Hannah makes Annie Knowby a fearless badass throughout this series, definitely not like Sarah Berry’s version seen in the Evil Dead 2 film where she screamed at every little thing (although I can’t blame her for screaming, there was some messed up stuff going on around her). I personally think it wasn’t a bad idea writing her that way, i’d rather have her be heroic than screaming at every little demon flying past her the entire time. While on the topic of female characters in this book, Hannah proved his Evil Dead 2 nerdy-ness and got my approval when he included a deleted scene from the film in issue #2: in the Evil Dead 2 film, one of the most memorable scenes is Deadite Linda’s dance outside the cabin as a frighten Ash looks on, and then Ash awakens from what we are led to believe was just a nightmare and then Linda’s head falls into Ash’s lap and bites his hand. However, not many fans know there was a filmed but deleted sequence where after falling into his lap, Linda attacks Ash with a tongue that would make Gene Simmons jealous and then bites his hand. Once I saw that scene presented in this book, I had no doubt that this film was in good hands at Space Goat Publishing.
As I mentioned above, it was refreshing to see an amazing Evil Dead related comic after years of crossovers and “meh”-tier storylines from Dynamite’s Army of Darkness comics, and I would highly recommend this book to any Evil Dead fan either hardcore or casual. You can look for all three individual issues released by Space Goat Publishing, get it in the trade paperback edition, or get it digitally on Comixology.
9 Kandarian Daggers out of 10.