Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CBR Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash

On one side, the supernatural serial killers killer, the final girl with a vengeance - Cassie Hack!

On the other, the Chosen One, the evil dead's army of darkness number #1 pain in the ass - Ashley J. Williams!

Who has stolen those pages from the Necronomicon? Can Cassie go back to this sort of life? And more importantly, will Ash get some sugar?

Comic title: Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash
Art by Daniel Leister 
Story by Tim Seeley 

Published by Dynamite
From 2013
Lineup Army of Darkness series/Hack/Slash series
Format: Trade paperback collecting the limited series Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #1-6. 

Their names are Ash and Cassie, and they are slaves...

Sorry, I just had to start this review that way!

Crossovers are no stranger to comics. As matter of fact, I already reviewed a Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator, Army of Darkness/Xena, Darkman vs. Army of Darkness, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and a Hack/Slash Vs. Chucky for my blog!

But this one's different, because it tries to bring together two horror icons of their own together. One's a horror film classic hero who has made a living off fighting the evil forces of darkness. The other's an icon of horror comics who has also made a living off fighting the evil forces of darkness actually.

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash!

This six-part crossover began in July 2013 and was published by Dynamite Entertainment, with Image Comics' participation. This here's the trade paperback collection reprinting the 6 issues over 184-page worth of material.

Featuring Ash Williams from the Evil Dead series and Cassie Hack from Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash series.

Tim Seeley has always been a long time Evil Dead/Army of Darkness fan. This is probably part of why he ended up working in comics. The third episode, Army of Darkness, had this unique blend of horror film, part action-adventure epic, part swashbuckling action and comedy. Back in his Devil's Due Publishing days, when he started working there on G.I.Joe titles, etc., Tim made a working pitch for a new series of his own. An Army of Darkness comic book series he wanted to launch. It was tale about some Deadite animals taking over a small town, because a veterinary wanted to brought them back with the Book of the Dead. But at the same time he found out DDP wasn't able to secure the rights for those films and it was actually Dynamite that was about to launch AoD comics.

A year later he would rewrite that script into what would essentially become his slasher tribute-parody series Hack/Slash. Instead the idea was changed to revolve around this "final girl" who survived an encounter with a slasher and use those skills to go after other slashers and put a stop to those undead creates. And the first Hack/Slash story he wrote was actually recycled from that Army of Darkness pitch, instead it was now Cassie facing these undead pets. The success of that first issue would help him release more Hack/Slash one-shots, then minis, and finally a series that would end up lasting for about 10 years (and a change of publisher). A final issue would finally arrive over 70 issues later.

And coming full-circle, it was about that time Dynamite approached him, apparently interested in the idea of a crossover with his series. Which he quickly agreed to, despite having put some closure in Cassie's life.

But now was as good time as any to go back to Hack/Slash. If anything, with the story ended, this would serve as a nice epilogue.

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash takes place after the events of both series' endings.

Previously, in Hack/Slash... Cassie had fought all kinds of slashers over the years since her own mother-turned-slasher back at school. Lately she came to face the Black Lamp Society and its leader, Akakios. In that final showdown she lost her partner, Vlad. She was now happily living with Margaret, and they both have this baby daughter (actually the daughter of their friends who died during these events recently).

Previously, in Army of Darkness... Ash has faced all sorts of Deadites and undead creatures over the last few years, even Marvel Zombies! Darkman! Danger Girl! Zombie mobsters! You name it! Not only has he traveled through time and back, but he also went through other alternate realities relieving the events back at the cabin within the woods and met a female doppelgänger from some other world.

Will our two heroes be able to put their differences aside? Ash's in fact the complete opposite of her ex-partner Vlad who was gentle and a close friend of Cass. Instead, they're both pretty similar, or he is what she might even turn out like someday...

Our story begins in Minnesota.

Cassie is now living a "normal" life with Margaret... One time coming back home, she spots someone lurking in their home... And it's Ash!

There's some quick conflict between those two, but she finally identifies the legendary "Chosen One" because of his metallic hand!

Ash tells her everything. (And we get two great splash pages recapping both characters' past adventures) How he was able to contain all these Deadite invasions so far, but how someone was able to steal some pages of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis! And now they're having these strange auctions and selling those pages through the country! In fact Ash located Cassie's home because of the babysitter that was keeping the baby. Speaking of, where did that babysitter go!?

Our heroes put their differences aside to get the job done.

Turns out there's this big trail of blood leading to this old cult Cassie might be familiar with.

From there the book turns into a fun buddy comedy situation as our heroes partner to track the missing pages, both perfectly in-character through the book. It's such a fun book!

Ash can't stop drooling all over her. They both work well off each other.

Cassie discovers the Black Lamp Society might really still be in activity, or at least, someone's trying to revive it back.

They get some help from Cat and Pooch (loved the cameo!).

Ash gets to narrate the book from his perspective one issue, then it's Cassie's voice's turn the next one.

There's this cult priestess selling these pages at first. Someone used his incantation to summon a mini Deadite-clones army. An evil double is causing a mess somewhere else. There's these armed and trained Deadite mercenaries after them. Finally that priestess decides to use the Book of the Dead for her own good and opens a portal through time!

Our heroes manage to kick ass while taking names - chainsaw, boomstick and baseball bat in hands!

It's pretty fun and tries to be as much newreaders friendly as possible to newcomers to either series.

"One side" of the crossover never really overpowers the other. The world of "Hack/Slash" and "Army of Darkness" perfectly co-exist next to each other, each given equal screentime through the importance of both our protagonists.

Tim is a big AoD fan, and it shows. He really knows his stuff and seems to have done his homework on Dynamite's Army of Darkness series.

Both characters are used to usually be the leader and center of attention of their own tales, it's a fun dynamic! It works great! We even get a fun brief thing between them (look at their mini-Deadites clones going at it...). Ash gets plenty of one-liners. But he's not just here for pure comedy, he's also a badass of his own who can also use his brains as well. 

The two are pretty similar kind of characters. Also, this is Dynamite's Ash from the Army of Darkness comic book series, who has also gone through all sorts adventures through time and back. He's a bit more jaded, more sarcastic and not taking anything ever seriously, he's seen it all! He's still the same witty loveable goofball though. And Cassie is a worthy rival for Ash.

Daniel Leister's art is pretty good. Though part of me wishes we could have had actually Seeley himself doing it (but I guess that would have been asking too much from the man..). While I wasn't entirely fan of some of his weaker moments in the actual Hack/Slash series, it seems he upped his game for the occasion. Leister took a lot of care, perfectly capturing Bruce Campbell's chin in all its timeless glory! There's also plenty of gore as well, of course!

Finally the trade contains a few bonuses. Like Tim Seeley's original script for the first issue. It's a nice look behind the scenes. We also get a great insightful introduction from Tim.

And there's a fantastic cover gallery helmed together by Stefano Caselli who did the main covers, along the work of Ben Templesmith, Ken Haeser, Christopher Mitten and Tim Seeley himself!

Overall, it's a pretty fun book. Highly Recommended for fans of either series (or both) or horror fans alike! Even if you're only slightly familiar with the idea of any of those characters. The book does a great job summarizing these characters and recapping some of their key history moments.

Fast-paced and original. It's another solid great book from Tim Seeley!

With great art from Leister who's well suited for this kind of horror and gory stories.

A match made in heaven (- or hell)!

Both making me miss the Hack/Slash series immensely and renewing my interest in the Army of Darkness comic series.

I give it:

3 / 3 ManThings!