Friday, October 28, 2016

CBR Army of Darkness #1992.1

Dynamite's Army of Darkness series has received several short anthology specials over the past decade.

Here's the latest to date, a celebration of Dynamite long-running horror/comedy comic book series!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th (NES) 
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)
One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of TerrorThe First Death of Laurie Strode
Hellraiser 1
Final Exam
Black Christmas / Christmas Evil
Silent Night, Deadly Night series - Part 1 &2 - Silent Night (2012)
Santa's Slay
Jack Frost (1997)/Jack Frost (1998)
Pumpkinhead 1
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Leprechaun series / Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1Hatchet 2Hatchet 3
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs CheerleadersHack/Slash/Nailbiter
Series 2 (Image)Son Of Samhain
Transylvania 6-5000/Transylvania Twist
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
The Final GirlsKnights of Badassdom
Darkman seriesDarkman (NES)

Comic title: Ash and the Army of Darkness #1992.1
Art by Juanan Antonio, Matthew Gantt Childers, Francesco Manna, Juan Francisco Moyano & Larry Watts
Written by Cullen Bunn, James Kuhoric, Steve Niles, Mike Raicht & Elliott R. Serrano

Published by Dynamite Entertainment
From November 2014
Lineup Evil Dead/Army of Darkness series
Format: One-shot special anthology issue Army of Darkness #1992.1.

Following the fan-favorite Evil Dead film trilogy, Ashley J. Williams has had a long history with comic books. After some pretty good comic book adaptations of The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness at Dark Horse Comics, Dynamite Entertainment launched an Army of Darkness ongoing title in 2004 to much success. These comics were fun, silly and very much true to the B-movie nature of the film series.

Ash and the Army of Darkness follows a complete reboot of this long-running comic book series. This reboot of the comic was bound to happen as the series was starting to grew out of hand and completely lose touch with what made it so great in the first place. The series was getting harder and harder to follow thanks to several crossovers and complete change of direction whenever a new creative team picked it up.

In anticipation of the new Ash vs Evil Dead TV series, Dynamite wanted to offer a fresh new start to their Army of Darkness comics with a different tone, thanks to the success of the Evil Dead remake. After a great first volume by 30 Days of Night creator Steve Miles, Ash found himself back in medieval times, fighting off hordes of Deadites to save the world! This new story arc concluded with the long time-coming wedding of Ash and Sheila in Ash Gets Hitched, right on time to marks the 10th Anniversary of the Army of Darkness comics since Dynamite launched them back in July 2004 (time flies by so fast..).

Before the following story arc, Ash In Space, Dynamite made a one-shot special Army of Darkness #1992.1. A one-shot not bugged down by continuity to allow new fans to jump in with a fresh new start and issue #1. A 48-page anthology special issue collecting various short stories set in the current series.

This Army of Darkness #1992.1 was also a very special book for Dynamite Entertainment. You see, it's a celebration of decades of Army of Darkness comics. Army of Darkness was originally their very first comic book title! The publisher was founded by Nick Barrucci in 2005, and they immediately first produced two Army of Darkness limited comic book series back then. Now it's time to go back to a simpler time for some classic Ash tales, 1992-style!

Most of these tales take place some time after Ash's recent wedding to Sheila, but right before he would end up in space! Different tales of the Chosen One, by some of the best AoD series writers!

Our first story is Promotion Commotion, written by AoD Vol. 3's James Kuhoric with art by previous Ash and the Army of Darkness artost Francesco Manna. It's the story of Ash right before he went back to medieval times, which means basically a direct continuation of the theatrical ending of the Army of Darkness film. Now back working at S-Mart, Ash is trying to avoid any new invasions of Deadites and trying to live a normal life to finally get his long-deserved promotion. It's been a whole year! You can guess how this ends. This was a really fun, if way too short little tale that gets the AoD spirit right, Ash's dialogues really capture Bruce Campbell's voice and it doesn't really lead anywhere we haven't been before. Which is kinda sad since I would expect James Kuhoric to try something better with all of his AoD experience. The art is absolutely gorgeous, I really miss having Manna's artwork on the book already!

After that we have Rockwellicon, from writer Mike Raicht and illustrated by Matthew Childers. Supposedly sometime around that same story - or the end of Army of Darkness - a long time S-Mart colleague of Ash passed away. And not because of Deadites for once. He was a great model for our hero, the man lived a decent life and even left him his home back in Rockwell. Ash takes this as his only shot at a normal life.. But something happens to his neighbors when someone discovers the Necronomicon... This was a really fun short typical Army of Darkness comic story. Not a big fan of the cartoon art here, personally, it didn't feel as mastered as some past AoD artists. But it had a fun creepy/comedic tone that is actually fairly close to the series Ash vs Evil Dead.

After that a really original and different tale, Ash Beyond, by writer Elliott Serrano and artist Juanan Ramirez. And yes, that title is totally a reference to the cartoon Batman Beyond. Because it's actually a complete re-imagining of the Evil Dead story set in a futuristic science-fiction universe! Evil Dead scifi-style, baby! It's the classic tale of Ash, employee. While trying to get laid with his girlfriend Linda through SymSex©, they unleash the NECR0N0M1CON virus into the world! Ash ends up battling the armies of DARKNESS.exe through various virtual realities (including a medieval MMORPG) before being force to cut down his own hand-enhancement controls. It was... really fun and unique! I would have read any entire volume of this Ash Beyond actually! Really fun fresh take on the series, and a nice change of pace! The art of Juanan Ramirez is also beautiful and top notch! Great fun tale, and the highlight of this issue for me!

Next up is Return To The Windmill, penned by returning AoD vol. 4 author Steve Niles with art by Juanfran Moyano. Set some time after Ash's return to 1300 AD but right before his wedding, Ash decides to return to the infamous windmill to check if there's any tiny Bad Ash counterparts left behind, in case of Evil Ash's eventual return. Mayhem ensues! This was a really fun way to recapture the silliness and insanity of Army of Darkness in a short epilogue to the film. Steve Niles even go to play with some very creative ideas I would have a hard time imagining Sam Raimi pulling off properly in an actual Evil Dead film! Short, but it works here.

And finally we have the "Prelude to Ash In Space" by Deadpool writer Cullen Bunn & Larry Watts. I won't go too long into this one since it's just the prologue that ties into Ash In Space, read that review for more details. Ash follows an astronomer in 1350 AD into a space mission in our present day... Larry Watts' art is really fun and on display here. He wouldn't illustrate the actual storyline.

Finally there book had two variant covers (which is quite surprising considering it's a Dynamite Entertainment title). The regular cover (pictured above) is a gorgeous and over-the-top painting by Lucio Parrillo while Roberto Castro & Alex Guimaraes did the exclusive "subscription" variant cover.

Overall, this Army of Darkness #1992.1 special is a great look into Dynamite's current Army of Darkness comics.

After a little low point with too many incessant crossovers, these comics are finally great and fun again!

This was a great sample to the current artists and writers on board. A great read through the different types of Army of Darkness tales. And the perfect way to dive back into Ash Williams' ongoing battles against the Deadites!

A really fun book, Highly Recommended to any horror comics fans or just Evil Dead fans. Specially if you haven't read the comics yet or have put the book aside for a while. It's an easy pick that doesn't require much familiarity with prior comics, although it does help place the story. All you need to know is that Ash has returned to the past and is now married to Sheila, which is easily explained away in a single throwaway line.

I give it:
3 / 3 ManThings!

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