Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Comic Book Review: Army of Darkness Vol. 3 #1 and #2

-------------Review by contributing writer Elise Holmes------------------

Note from the Editor: I asked Elise to do this comic review for Evil Dead News because the website's workload is steadily increasing. Elise is extremely knowledgeable about all things Evil Dead, especially collectible items. Elise maintains a fantastic Tumblr page and a YouTube channel that every Evil Dead fan should check out. I have included all of her links below. Now on to the review ...

Dynamite Entertainment after a long hiatus has finally risen from the grave for its new Army of Darkness revival in the form of Volume 3. Written by Elliot Serrano, the series has taken a new direction with the introduction of a new character this time around, an alternate universe version of Ash. Catch is, this Ash is a woman. With this concept in mind, many fans have anticipated the new series hoping for a new and fresh start. Unfortunately, long time readers of the Army of Darkness comic series just may be disappointed.

Issue #1 follows our new female lead known as Ashley K. Williams, exploring a bit of her back story with how she became a chosen one in her own right. Though this sounds promising, it turns out to be a little bit of a let down. This issue borrows heavily from Army of Darkness itself such as the opening, narrative style, S Mart-esque job, and setting of the story. The story itself is rather confusing as well. It doesn't help to include the introduction of another character other than Ashley K. that seems to serve no purpose to the storyline. There could have been more fleshing out of the storyline if this seemingly pointless character was removed and replaced with better back story. Instead, this issue simply feels rushed. It just plays out more like a sorry excuse to get our main character to go from its normal everyday life to Ashley J's universe.

One reason for this rushed storyline is that a section of the storyline is literally missing. It is never explained how the character got from her world to another timeline. It just happened. The series may have benefited from adding an extra issue and fleshing her story over two issues instead. Ashley K. seems to be a clone of the original Ash we all know and love as well, except presented as smarter, more grounded, and less arrogant. A special ability of hers serves as the best use of originality in the entire storyline which isn't terrible but it might not win over all readers.

Issue #2 jumps into some action between our original hero Ash and some deadites after some narrative from Ashley K. at right where it left off in the last issue. This bit immediately reminded me of older issues in previous volumes of Army of Darkness, except this time the more experienced Ash has brought with him some new weapons other than his trusty chainsaw and boomstick to do battle with. Other than this, the beginning is definitely just a rehash and steals lines from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. It's not like this hasn't already been done countless times. This is pretty formulaic and nothing too new is shown here. Simply the question "What is Ash up to these days?" is raised and answered. He is working solo here. Probably after this, the series is probably meant to play out like a buddy cop film between our two Ashes after they meet up. The issue then turns to a family in Brazil where setting of the next two issues are presumably going to occur. In the quickest manner, the main antagonist is introduced. It is the impeding challenge our two heroes are to take together.

There is nothing much to criticize here as the story just becomes a set up for both Ashes. We have yet to see both of them together other than the throwback narrative between the two at the beginning of the first two issues. If the reader simply loves seeing Ash battle deadites, it definitely does offer that and not much else. This issue unlike the last is at least very straight forward and is easier to follow. If this issue was meant to simply have readers get excited at references to the movies and just watch the Ashes battle deadites, it wouldn't probably be frustrating for long time fans to read. Otherwise, it is still an improvement over the last issue. Despite these complaints, the first two issues of the series are still a fun romp despite their confusing nature.

One definite positive aspect of the series is artist Marat Mychaels. His art style catches our original hero's likeness and the design on female Ash is simple but spot on. The artistic style is perfect for Army of Darkness though the deadites seem to be stereotypically drawn much like in older issues with nothing new particularly standing out, but this isn't necessarily a big problem.

Overall, the new Army of Darkness series so far seems to be lacking in a decent and easier storyline to follow with much reused elements from both the original film and the previous comics. There isn't too much originality but there's still some deadite carnage thrown in the mix which is very well drawn and wonderful to look at. Those looking for something fresh may want to pass. But if you're simply a fan excited to see Ash in the new scenario that will arise in issues #3 and #4 as he is teamed up with our female character with deadite violence in the mix, it is worth a look.

Elise's Links:

Ramblings of a Deadite - Tumblr

TheDeaditeSlayer - YouTube

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