Review: Ash and the Army of Darkness - Annual 2014

Ash, cult hero of the Evil Dead and Army of Darkness films continues his battle with supernatural evil forces (Deadites) through time in this comic book adaptation by Dynamite! Comics. In this annual, Ash brings his wisecracking wit and chainsaw hand to Ancient Egypt, the pirate-laden Barbary Coast, and the pioneer days of Arizona.  A benevolent magician quested the hero to confront an evil witch who had stolen Ash’s soul.

ASHandAODAnn2014-Cov-CaleroOff through time goes Ash, and he delivers on the catchphrases and evil stomping we have come to expect from the displaced S-Mart worker.  Particularly entertaining were the lines, “This sermon’s about to go Old Testament” when Ash fought mummies and monsters in Ancient Egypt and “That booty isn’t yours,” uttered when he defended some maidens from marauding pirates.  Although he loses his horse, Horse, he gains new hoofed friends in Camel and Donkey.  That silly kind of fun has endeared Ash to audiences since 1981.

Nacho Tenorio provides the artwork for this annual.  He captures the titular hero in good detail.  However, the creatures did not come off as menacing as in the standard comic run.  Enlarged, iris-less eyes glowing red seemed to pass off as the signifier of evil.  Lacking was the ooze and rot associated with the possessed in the Ashiverse.

I wasn’t sure if it was because I read a digital copy, but the coloring seemed so dark that most of the action was indiscernible.  Too much shadowing may be the reason why Tenorio’s details might have been washed out.  Most panels came off as pitch black with some streaks of color.  This is not dark and brooding atmosphere; this is just terrible color design that detracted from the art.

Flash_Annual_Vol_2_9A Quick Aside on Annuals

My philosophy on annuals is as follows: An annual should be a comic outside the standard story arcs that provides an additional tale not able to be told in the standard narrative structure.  For example, an outstanding example of a well-constructed narrative is the 1996 The Flash annual (#9) that takes place in a world inside the speed force.  While The Flash does not appear, we are told a story that occurs inside the immediate influences of the character’s powers.  That’s bold, creative, and entertaining—and how an annual should read.

Now that you understand my philosophy on comic book annuals, you can understand why I’m somewhat disappointed in this book that sells for a dollar extra than a standard issue.  This annual provides no further entertainment than what you would get from a standard price issue in the normal arc.  This chapter—albeit a moderately entertaining one—would have been a stand-alone issue in the regular run of the comics.

Due to the issues with the artwork and the overall lack of creativity in this annual’s execution, I cannot rate it too highly.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Shannon Eric Denton Artist: Nacho Tenorio Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $4.99 Release Date: 3/26/14