Steve Niles continues the misadventures of Ashley J Williams in ‘Ash and the Army of Darkness’ # 2. The issue is ripe with action and the exposition is communicated through fluid panels that never stagger. The result is an issue that launches from a clunky beginning into a finish that is sure to please.
I’ll admit that when I read the first issue of “Ash and the Army of Darkness” I wasn’t completely into it. The characters and the universe are sacred to me, and the material in the first issue didn’t feel particularly new. Ash was the same old blubbering hero he always was, and his dialogue was pretty much a rehash of most of his more iconic lines.
Issue # 2 is an improvement. Niles is really able to let loose and sink his teeth into the world. His Ash is a little more coy here, a little less of a motor mouth, and finally on top of his enemy. It’s a cool change and one that works.
Meanwhile Calero’s art is filled with strong backgrounds and jagged panels. The result is a series of bold images with a jagged but unrelenting pace. It may seem strange at first, but given the tone of the book it totally works. The backgrounds are minimalistic, but serve to reinforce the foreground.
The narrative pushes forward into new and interesting territory. Although I wish it had done so with just a little more of a kick. Things feel a little dragged out from last month’s conclusion. It’s a difficult balancing act because there are so many characters that we need to catch up, but a little less time with Ash would go a long way.
The finale is big and sets the stage for a huge battle in the future. Ash is pretty much a messiah figure in this world and how that will come into play seems to be on Niles’ mind. The balancing act between Ash’s good and evil persona lingers in the background with every successive page, and with the book of the dead missing in action it’s anyone’s guess how it might turn up again.
“Ash and the Army of Darkness” doesn’t do much to justify its own existence, but it remains to be a fun experiment in an established world. The characters are undeniably entertaining, and the plot can amount to something much larger than what originally inspired it.
Right now the series fails to capture the zany insanity that the film is known for, and as it stands is my most major gripe. With a little more attention to the fun side of “Army of Darkness” and a little less time spent on moving the pieces into play for the longer game issue three might be able to capture the film’s magic.
Rating: 3/5 Skulls.