A major treat for horror movie fans, the “Army of Darkness/Re-Animator” one-shot special is full of witty one-liners, slapstick visual gags, and crazy undead action. A fresh spin on both franchises, the crossover becomes a stylish and over-the-top romp of gore and comedy. With Ash picking up his boomstick and Herbert West carrying his glowing green syringe, this unlikely team-up gives a whole new meaning to oddball lunacy.
WRITTEN BY: Mark Rahner
ART BY: Randy Valiente
PUBLISHER: Dynamite Entertainment
RELEASE: October 23, 2013
After being sucked into a vortex, Ash Williams is spit out and thrown somewhere in the past. In 1922, Ash accidentally ends up in the medical hands of Dr. Herbert West. Because of his Hippocratic oath, Dr. West operates on Ash and gives him back his missing hand. In return, Ash becomes West’s new lab assistant and helps him in his underground research to extend life. Ash senses something is terribly wrong when he discovers Dr. West using the Necronomicon for his medical experiments. Dr. West will bring about something from the deadly incantation that even Ash cannot stop.
Writer Mark Rahner understands that this crossover entirely depends on the characterizations of his main protagonists. When Ash isn’t fighting the Deadites, Rahner portrays him as a dumb jock who is really out of his league. Rahner then depicts West as an intelligent doctor interested in saving lives, but willing to go to the extremes to do so. Rahner is having fun with the Dr. Frankenstein and Igor metaphor, especially when Ash finds himself hustled and outsmarted by Dr. West’s mind-games.
The chemistry between Ash and Dr. West works surprisingly very well because Rahner focuses on their dialogue. When Dr. West speaks, he is eloquent and technical, as if showing off his intelligence. Ash interrupts Dr. West’s monologues any chance he gets and throws in a witty comeback. Even though Dr. West is annoyed by the sarcastic remarks, he knows Ash can serve a better purpose in his experiments.
Artist Randy Valiente is able to capture Sam Raimi’s slapstick comedy and Stuart Gordon’s excessive use of gore in his panels. Valiente though does not replicate the looks of Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey Combs into his illustrations. Because the characters are supposed to be in their younger heyday, Valiente settles for a caricature style when illustrating Ash and Dr. West. In the opening pages, Valiente uses an extreme low angle when Ash meets Dr. West for the first time, making him seem larger than life.
One of my favorite illustrations is when Ash’s new hand takes a turn for the worst. Unable to control himself, Ash grabs Dr. West and begins to strangle him. Ash knows the only way to save Dr. West is by sawing off his own hand. In all its glory of blood and gore, Valiente shows Ash sawing off his new hand and makes Dr. West watch with his eyes wide open.
“Army of Darkness/Re-Animator” is an entertaining read that makes you wish the crossover was a little bit longer. After you finish this issue, you’ll end up watching the “Evil Dead” and “Re-Animator” DVDs all over again.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis