Review: Ash and The Army of Darkness #4

The Evil Dead series is a cult franchise of three films that follow anti-hero Ashley J. Williams as he confronts demons in a haunted cabin in the woods.  The third film transports our hero back to medieval times to fight the Army of the Dead. The films gained a huge following because they brilliantly mixed sarcastic humor, gore, and true frights.  Director Sam Raimi made this cinematic formula all his own; watch Drag Me to Hell to get more of the same from him.

And this book, penned by Steve Niles, falls right into place with the films.  The same tone, a synthesis of laughs and thrills, abounds.  Niles plays a perfect doppelgänger to Raimi by translating the fun of the films into this comic.

ASHandAOD04-Cov-SuydamAdditionally, Dennis Calero does an outstanding job of illustrating character concepts like the chasing forest demon into the comic.  I understood exactly what was happening because the artist portrayed the bodiless demon so well.  I fret that those not familiar with the films may have a tougher time understanding what is going on, but I feel Calero’s capable pencils may be enough to capture such a challenging concept to understand.  Besides, the artist also does great justice in recreating the looks of characters such as Ash, Henry, Arthur, and Shelia.  The depictions of the characters from the films are stunning.

Lest I sound like I’m gushing, I will say one more item about the art.  The demons and creatures have a great, distinctive look to them.  The flying creatures on the opening pages look like animated gargoyles dropping down from the skies for an attack.  Also, the Necronomicon’s flesh binding seethes with detail.  And the haunted graveyard’s fog seems as thought it could lift right off the page.

Okay, back to the story.  The book takes place during Ash’s exile to the times of swords and sorcery.  I’m picking this up on issue four, so I am under the belief that Ash has been transported back to repeat his experiences seen in the third film.  He and Shelia go into the forest to reclaim the Necronomicon so as to banish the demons.

The issue’s climax ends with a wicked twist that fans won’t see coming—and will usher them to read the next issue.

My only gripe about the book is the dreadfully slow exposition between Arthur and Henry.  The two characters explain a whole lot that should have been told through the visual storytelling method.  But that’s a minor gripe.

Overall, Ash vs. The Army of Darkness captures the look and spirit of the film while providing new, additional stories in the Evil Dead universe.  Give this book a read if you want to feel scared and laugh while doing it.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Steve Niles Artist: Dennis Calero Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/19/14