Maybe I’m just reaching crossover burnout or something, but I am personally a huge fan of Bruce Campbell and both of the properties featured in this series, and Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep just isn’t doing it for me in the way I’d hoped it would. I don’t know, guys. I really enjoyed last month’s issue, so let’s see if I can figure out why this one didn’t work for me.
I appreciate that it’s not taking such an inherently silly concept seriously, but the plot just feels quite thin. The story is predicated on the funny coincidence that Bruce Campbell played both of these characters and therefore, they look just alike. That’s about it.
The majority of this issue is taken up by a decent run of jokes about how much Ash resembles Elvis and a bit of kung fu nonsense against a mummy that may or may not be a time traveler, may or may not be the same mummy from the Bubba Ho-Tep film, and may or may not be an ancient sorcerer pharaoh actually named Ho-Tep.
I mentioned before that the actual events in the issue are pretty thin, which is why all of the “may or may nots” drive me up the wall. With so many vagaries in the plot, one would think there’s plenty of material to fill in the gaps. Sure, there’s the chance this will all be filled in as the book goes along, but there’s so little here for the reader to invest in or hold onto, beyond, “Ha! Bruce Campbell.”
Rather than sound like a total jerk, though, maybe I should talk about the positives. While the story is thin, the jokes continue to be clever. Little in-jokes related to the Evil Dead films are sprinkled throughout, but never feel too obvious as to be eye-rolling. Several references are made to Elvis songs in dialogue and are done in fun ways.
The artwork continues to be my absolute favorite thing about this miniseries, though. Vincenzo Federici leans into the groovy grindhouse tone suggested by the meeting of these two properties, while Michelle Monte’s colors bring out the retro Vegas vibe this time-traveling chapter calls for. The result is a really cool-looking book, full of interesting visuals and dynamic action sequences that give the book some much-needed forward momentum.
Another reason I may be feeling this sense of burnout while reading this issue is how much of it feels like a retread of the previous issue. The first issue did a great job of introducing the characters and having the customary “fight first before teaming up” dynamic of most crossovers. This issue shows Elvis and Ash fight again before teaming up against the mummy. Granted, this is due to the fact that Ash is fighting Elvis in a different time (before he’s met Ash), but it can’t help but feel old already. Luckily, this confrontation is a lot shorter, quickly getting to the part where the two are chummy again.
Again, other readers may get more out of this issue than I did, but this one just felt like a step down after last month.