A look at Dynamite Comics’ new Army of Darkness series

By C.J. Bunce

No matter how an artist draws Ashley J. Williams–Ash–from the low-budget horror/dark comedy/zombie Evil Dead series, the character is impossible to see as anyone other than Bruce Campbell.  Publishers like Dark Horse and Dynamite Comics have released prior series featuring Ash, but if you missed those and are after a new ongoing series you might check out the new Army of Darkness from Dynamite.  With Issue #3 released at comic book stores today, you can still easily track down Issues #1 and 2 or, even quicker, download the back issues from comixology.com for a lot less than the print price.

If you don’t know Ash, he’s the character made famous by cult favorite actor Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead (1981), The Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1991), as well as three video games: Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000), Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003) and Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005).  ASh is both funny and wise-cracking, a mirror image of the character Bruce Campbell seems to personify wherever he shows up.  The shows were directed by Campbell’s long-time creative partner Sam Raimi, known for everything from Hercules to Xena: Warrior Princess to Legend of the Seeker, all great fantasy TV series filmed in New Zealand, land of Middle Earth before it was Middle Earth.  And he also directed the first three Spider-man movies.  Bruce Campbell can be seen weekly in the successful spy series Burn Notice as cool-with-his-mojito, ex-spy in Miami, Sam Axe.

Fans of Campbell will pretty much tell you there is no one out there cooler than this guy.  And fans of Evil Dead may be interested that Raimi is in production right now of a remake of the original Evil Dead, with a new young cast, and instead of the tongue in cheek humor of the original comedy horror series, the new film will be a more serious supernatural thriller–probably not what a lot of diehard fans will be after.

But if you want more of the original Ash, then the place to look is this new comic book effort.  But there’s a twist with the new series.  You may find yourself puzzled throughout Issue #1 of the new Army of Darkness, as the “voice”–comments and word choice–of the character is all Bruce Campbell, yet the new Ash is a woman.   And Ash is a man.  And Ash is a woman.  It will all make sense, trust me.  The hero of Issue #1 turns out not to be Ashley J. Williams but new heroine Ashley K. Williams, Ash of a parallel universe that happens to be a butt-kicking woman with the personality and schtick of Bruce Campbell.

And we get the back story of Ash and her/his abilities not through yet another Ash origin story but through this parallel Ash.  And it works well.  The story itself is peppered with both pop culture references everyone should get and, for the diehard fans, references back to the original series only serious fans will likely get.

Ashley K. meets up with some well-timed aliens that prompt her to arrive at a nexus point, that just so happens to be where Ashley J. Williams also turns up.  On first read readers may get the feeling like I did with the New 52 Issue #1 of Green Lantern, hoping for Hal Jordan but getting Sinestro instead.  But what this story sets up is the opportunity for twice the Ash–if one Ash is good, two must be double the fun.  And Ashley J. turns up in full force for Issue #2.

Army of Darkness is written by Elliott R. Serrano with pencils by Marat Mychaels and inks by Chris Ivy.  Some of the best writers and artists today are creating for Dynamite Comics, so if you’re looking for something off the mainstream Marvel Comics and DC Comics, Dynamite has a lot of choices, along with this title there is Bionic Man, Bionic Woman, Green Hornet, Kato, Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, all discussed here at borg.com previously, and lots more to check out.

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