There’s something to be said for a story that relies on your knowledge of something else to become whole. That something is: “Go be original or go away.” Cultural pastiches like “Family Guy” and Marvel’s Ultimate Universe are concepts that only work because they lean on your prior knowledge and tweak it enough that you might be fooled into thinking it’s something new or exciting. Sadly, like Iceman wearing a bandana, this new twist on the “Army of Darkness” mythos tries but doesn’t quite succeed.
It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. Elliott R. Serrano is sticking his neck out and working a new angle. This is to be applauded because many of the previous Army of Darkness comic titles simply rehashed the same formula with a few variables modified. Serrano takes the central draw — Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ashley J. Williams — and makes him a female lead from an alternate reality named Ashley K. Williams. The name is the first giveaway of what we are in for. This wants to hit the old beats through the prism of the “new” angle of the chick instead of the guy.
The dialogue from our female Ash reads exactly as if from Campbell’s mouth. The opening page comes straight from the movie. While it acknowledges its laziness, that doesn’t completely excuse it. These nods might excite some because they feel on the inside for understanding where the knowing wink is coming from, the rest of us simply don’t care because we have the original film. If you’re buying into this comic it’s because you want something new and/or exciting. This “Army of Darkness” relaunch, of sorts, is mostly neither.
While the book isn’t stellar, it’s only halfway through that the truly absurd rears its ugly head. The parallels are there; this is an alternate Ash, so of course the courses have to be similar, but it’s with the hand that the book will lose many. No matter what reality, there are certain universal elements within the tale we need to stay true and this development with new Ash’s hand is flat out ridiculous. Soon after that, the really bad dialogue starts dropping and it’s a mixture of painful and painfully unfunny.
The art from Marat Mychaels shows promise but mostly avoids much fulfillment of that promise. There is a great panel early on of a deadite-infected boyfriend and the grinning rictus from over the shoulder is spot on in an “Evil Dead 2” way. The rest is generic and doesn’t capture the texture of the world nor the depth of any characters. There are also mistakes where a character holds up the wrong hand or is wearing the wrong clothes in one panel from the surrounding page. The art of a book shouldn’t feel invisible and then only speak up for a negative reason.
This book is in a predicament because old school fans won’t be won over, new readers will be left lost and uncaring due to the story’s ‘insider’ nature. At its heart, there is a decent concept to be explored here, but the execution does it no favors. This isn’t what you want it to be and it’s not even what it could have been.