Steve Niles drags Ashley Williams back into the past with what feels like a natural continuation of a twenty-year-old story, making it feel just like yesterday in “Ash and the Army of Darkness.” Ash’s dumbfounded pride is his undoing, but it makes him compelling to watch. Niles makes sure to portray Ash, as a little bit of a fool with an edge, and artist Dennis Calero knows how to draw one hell of a chin.
I don’t envy teams who choose to take on a property like this. It’s hard to continue a beloved story, and it’s even harder when you’re using someone else’s characters, harder still when the medium has changed. So when you consider the list of obstacles in front of any adaptation it’s nice to see one that succeeds.
Steve Niles is clearly a fan of Army of Darkness. The spirit of the original films is captured on the opening page. In the following pages he’s able to seamlessly weave in quotes from the film, letting us know we’re in good hands. Albeit a little too often for my own tastes, but even still, Ash is bombastic. He’s not the easiest to capture, and Niles does an incredible job at translating the characters energy through the page.
The story itself actually makes a ton of sense. In a brilliant plot point Ash’s own actions undo his salvation. The retooling of an old ally into an antagonist is a great way to continue the story, and it feels like a logical extension of the story on every level. Niles even makes sure to end the issue with an air of intrigue, which will leave you eager for next month.
The story meanders a little in action sequences early on, reminding you of the violence in this world. However, Calero’s work here will have you grinning from ear to ear. Panels like Ash stealing a kiss, or his maniacal smile as he smashes a deadite’s skull to dust will reassure you that you’re in good hands.
Although this may be a minor gripe, Raimi’s original films had camera work unlike any other. Framing and shot composition were of such vital importance to telling the story. While emulating said style would be nigh impossible, Calero doesn’t seem too eager to try. The paneling left me wanting a little more dynamic arrangements and detail. All too often are backgrounds left completely blank.
The script takes itself a little too seriously, but it’s setting the table for so much more. If the sharp dialogue keeps up, and Niles remembers to have some zany Evil Dead style fun then this series will be an absolutely joy to read. For now it’s a compelling enough setup for the larger story that will have me coming back for more.
“Ash and the Army of Darkness” welcomes new and old fans alike to enjoy the misadventures of Ashley J Williams in the 1300’s with a fun, gore soaked, continuation of a beloved story. Bring on issue # 2!
Rating 3.5/5 Skulls.