Ash Williams, everyone’s favorite metal arm-having, chainsaw-wielding Chosen One, continues to follow the trail of the Deadites. Ash hears about a mummy finding itself on the wrong end of a gas can, thanks to an elderly man who believes himself to be Elvis Presley. It’s a match made in Hell, baby!
This first issue was a lot of fun. I’ve followed Dynamite’s Army of Darkness comics off and on throughout the years, but it’s been a while since I’ve checked in on the continuing adventures of Ash Williams. Luckily, the writers on these books tend to design these separate miniseries in ways that are mostly friendly to new readers, given that they’re familiar with the basics of the Evil Dead franchise. Thanks to Scott Duvall’s script, I was happy to be able to jump right into this one without feeling like I missed a big chunk of backstory. It helped that I’m also a fan of the Bubba Ho-Tep film, which lends the first half of this issue some much-needed context.
Yes, while the issue does a great job of dropping folks right in with Ash, I have to imagine it will be a sight harder for new readers to follow what’s going on with Elvis. For fans, it’s refreshing to not have our hands held, but I do wonder how it’ll play to folks who don’t know what the mummy’s powers are or why he has a mad-on for Elvis. (I did, however, love the inclusion of the mummy’s hieroglyphic speech from the film. It translates beautifully to comics).
On the other hand, the book does do a decent job of giving the reader the basics of Elvis’ background and his growing reputation as an enemy to the supernatural. He even earns the trust and admiration of Ash in a pop quiz/karate fight that is one of the highlights of the issue. Artist Vincenzo Federici and colorist Michele Monte bring an almost anime-esque bent to the fight, with wild speed lines filling up the bright backgrounds of each panel. It lends a larger than life quality to the fight, allowing us to forget we’re watching a supermarket employee slug it out with an octogenarian in a bathrobe; these are instead two titans, finally testing one another.
The willingness to heighten an already ludicrous situation makes the story so much more fun. Though the Evil Dead series and the Bubba Ho-Tep film have their fair share of pathos, this first issue works so well because it never takes itself seriously. The characters treat their situations as life-and-death (because they are), but the creative team wisely allows the reader to be in on the joke.
The book also does a great job of both recalling and melding the styles of both Evil Dead mastermind Sam Raimi and Bubba Ho-Tep director Don Coscarelli. This is possibly best represented in my personal favorite page of the issue, which features the rustic look of Ho-Tep while managing to perfectly replicate the “demonic POV” sequences from the Evil Dead films and television series:
The last few pages of the issue are a little difficult to follow, which may be the point. As Ash tumbles through time, it’s hard to tell how much of what we are seeing is meant to be a flash-forward and which parts are filling us in on the time between Elvis’ first fight with the mummy and the current story.
Still, this was an extremely fun read! I’m glad to see Bubba Ho-Tep turning into a bonafide franchise for Dynamite and it felt good to return to the misadventures of Ash Williams after sitting out the last several miniseries.