Welcome to the first in a series of blogs where I review the Evil Dead-related comic books. For this first review, I took a look at the very first comic based on a film in the Evil Dead franchise: Dark Horse’s Army of Darkness limited series from 1992-93.
- Three issues
- Released from October, 1992 to January, 1993
- Written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and John Bolton
- Art by John Bolton
It’s the Army of Darkness movie word for word as told from Ash’s perspective. I say word for word, but it makes a few changes by including sequences that were deleted from the final film, such as the Ash and Sheila love scene, Ash riding over to Henry The Red’s territory, and the alternate ending where Ash finds himself in a dystopian future. Perhaps the most memorable comic-exclusive sequence is shortly after Ash escapes the pit, and The Wise Man tells him that the Necronomicon can send him home and a Deadite woman stirring a cauldron attacks. Instead of some room inside the castle as seen in the final film, the scene plays out in the ruins of a temple (perhaps a church?) and the Deadite knocks over the crumbling pillars surrounding them and creates a domino-like effect. This scene was included in the original “Army” script, storyboards, and even went as far as a miniature model of the temple built, but when it came time to build the life size set for the actors, it was too expensive to build and the scene was rewritten into the one we know it today. Besides the temple scene, the comic doesn’t show us anything that we can’t find in the deleted scenes section of our special edition DVDs or the Blu-Ray copies of Army of Darkness, although it is interesting to hear Ash’s inner-monologue as he goes on this adventure, one of my favorite “thoughts” of Ash’s being a bit of a fourth wall break as the winged Deadites grab Sheila: “Hey, if I was as fast as The Flash, I woulda had my own stinkin’ comic book!”
John Bolton’s art in this series is dark and grim, oppose to the vibrant colors presented in the Army of Darkness film. Everything, and I mean everything (the people, the buildings, the backgrounds) is made up of some shade of dark red, dark blue, dark green, black, grey, and white. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, I think it makes this book stand out more, it’s own unique thing that can’t be replicated (until Dark Horse’s The Evil Dead in 2008, but that’s another story for another time). Bolton uses a combination of both traced over still images from the Evil Dead trilogy and creating his own panels. When he does paint his own panels, he does a good job at nailing the likeness of Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz and Marcus Gilbert, but he does struggle a bit with the likeness of British actor Ian Abercrombie as The Wise Man character, and turns him into “generic old man with a beard and big nose”.
As I mentioned above, it’s the film almost word-for-word. John Bolton not only does the art for this series, but re-works the film’s script (written by Sam and Ivan Raimi) into a comic format. Most of Ash’s iconic one-liners are featured in these books, but once again it’s pretty obvious where Bolton added his own one-liners, as they are pretty out of character for Ash. I’ll give you an example:
Evil Ash is just within arms reach of the Necronomicon. Before he can grab the book, the original Ash confronts him.
Evil Ash: Once the book is in my grasp, I shall sit upon the throne of darkness as ruler supreme.
Ash: Only throne you’ll be sittin’ on is “Johnny Dumpster.”
Another part of the dialogue that was also a bit out of character was Ash’s southern (perhaps even pirate-like) accent.
Ash is thrown into the pit. After defeating the first Deadite down there with only his fist, he calls to Lord Arthur.
Ash: Get yer dimpled little ass down here! We’ll see what yer made of!
This didn’t really bother me, but as someone who’s seen the Evil Dead film more times than I could recall, I know that Bruce Campbell doesn’t speak like that in the films.
For the Evil Dead’s first venture into the world of comics, it’s pretty good. Would I recommend reading it for yourself? If you’re an Evil Dead fan: definitely. Should you buy it? If you can find it, get it. You can look for all three individual issues released by Dark Horse, get it in Dynamite Entertainment’s Army of Darkness Omnibus Volume 1, Dynamite’s trade paperback edition, or get it digitally on Comixology.
9 Johnny Dumpsters out of 10.