Title: Ash Vs The Army Of Darkness #0
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: 6/07/2017
Creators: Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Mauro Vargas
*Review copy provided by Dynamite Entertainment
Army of Darkness was a favorite film of mine growing up, and that’s something that never really changed. The Evil Dead films were great, but the comedy they spawned took the franchise in the way it needed to go. Mixing Bruce Campbell’s brand of cocky comedy with the practical horror the series was known for was the right move for director Sam Raimi. Even today, with the Starz series Ash vs The Evil Dead and films like Shaun of the Dead, we can see that the undead and humor make a perfect combo. Dynamite’s new comic, Ash vs The Army of Darkness dares to continue Ash’s story directly where the film left off, and this first issue (issue 0) sets up the premise for the rest of the series: Ash the substitute teacher.
At the end of the film Army of Darkness, Ash, having defeated the deadite army with King Arthur’s help, returns to his own time, the 1990s, only to find a deadite at work. Even though I’ve watched the movie an incalculable amount of times as a child, I never really thought to ask why a deadite appeared in Ash’s present time at the end of the film. While it was always a great ending to the film– one last deadite kill from a confident and hardened Ash–I never thought much about the reasons for a deadite following Ash back to his home. While we don’t get any direct answers in issue #0 of the comic, it looks as though Bowers and Sims’ story will be exploring these questions throughout the series, and that’s something I’m truly excited to see play out.
The setup for the following issues is that Ash, having saved S-Mart from the deadite at the end of the film, is fired from his job in housewares. The next day, he is approached by Joanne Wentworth, the vice principal of Alan Shepard High. She’s heard about the S-Mart incident on the news and explains that the deadite he killed in the store was the former librarian at the high school. She explains that it’s not really an isolated event and wants to enlist Ash’s help in figuring out what’s happening to the students and teachers of the school. Of course, Ash isn’t going to do anything for free, so she agrees to hire him. The comic ends with Ash approaching the school as the new substitute teacher in order to go undercover as a deadite hunter.
For me, this premise works. Ash as a substitute teacher in a school full of budding deadites is an amazing concept and one that I can’t wait to see play out in coming issues. The thought of him battling undead high-schoolers and teachers has got me excited, and I’m sincerely hoping he brings a “boomstick” to class. I’ve actually always loved the idea of supernatural school stories, like The Faculty or High School of the Dead. All of the tropes involved really add up to make interesting stories where jocks, nerds, preps, and outcasts team up, blurring the lines of cliques for the greater good.
The writing here is great. Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are sparking life into the world of Ash in an enthusiastic and ridiculous way, true to the humor of the franchise. Ash is, as always, a one-lining know-it-all ready to shun responsibilities until he’s being paid for it. It feels like the Ash we know, and that’s really important. The only other character we spend any time with is Joanne Wentworth, and then only briefly. She’ll obviously be playing a role in Ash’s presence at the school as someone who knows why he’s really there, so we’ll have to see how she develops.
The art is fantastic as well. Mauro Vargas has a style that really lends itself to this genre. Characters’ features are drawn angular and sharp which creates a sort of off-putting look that feels right. This style really shines on pages featuring the deadites, most notably the few pages toward the end of the book when we see some glimpses into what’s been happening at the high school. The page with the teacher eating the frog inside the biology lab is currently a personal favorite.
Honestly, even if you’re not a fan (but especially if you are) this comic is worth the purchase. The writing, art, and franchise history all add up to something great. There are several variant covers as well, so maybe you can snag your favorite. I’ll be keeping up with this series for sure, so stay tuned to The Nerd Stash for reviews of the rest of this run and other comics as well.
- Great writing
- Feels like Ash
- Art style lends itself to the franchise
- A little light on the action