Published on July 5th, 2015 | by Steven Roman
Review: Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1 (of 4)
In 1987, as depicted in the cult-classic film Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, an egocentric but lovable loser named Ashley “Ash” Williams—played by actor Bruce Campbell—fought for his life against an evil force in a remote cabin in the woods. It possessed his girlfriend (so he had to kill her), then his hand (so he had to cut it off), and Ash wound up battered, bloodied, and brandishing a wrist-mounted chain saw. With the help of the daughter of an expert on the occult, Ash eventually won the battle, only to be sucked into a mystical portal and dropped into fourteenth-century England. Ash’s medieval adventures continued in 1993’s Army of Darkness, in which moviegoers found him (reluctantly) recruited into the cause of banishing the same evil force he’d battled in the previous film. If he failed, the world would be destroyed, and he’d never be able to return to his own time period.
In 1969, comic readers were introduced to Vampirella, a vampiress from another world who traveled to Earth in search of blood and adventure. Over the decades, her outer-space origin may have been jettisoned—she’s now the daughter of Cain (of biblical Cain and Abel fame) and Lilith, mother of all monsters, and dedicated to wiping out her siblings—but two things have remained unchanged: her skin-revealing costume, and her status as the ultimate in bad-girl comic characters. Therefore, who better to cross paths with the King of All Things Groovy than the Queen of the Bad Girls?
And so we come to Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1—or, according to the story title, “Vampirella vs. Army of Darkness” (a nod to Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness, one of the film’s alternate titles)—written by Mark Rahner (Army of Darkness/Reanimator, The Twilight Zone) and illustrated by his Dejah of Mars collaborator Jethro Morales (Hack/Slash Annual 2010, Green Hornet: Legacy). Set during the events of the movie, we find that Ash has gotten hold of the source of the evil dead—a spellbook called the Necronomicon Ex Mortis—and he and his supporting cast, including his current squeeze, Sheila, are celebrating his success…unaware that a certain army of darkness is on its way to attack.
Dropped into this setting is Vampirella, whose behavior would seem to indicate that she’s been possessed by the evil force. But how did that happen? Even more important, how did she wind up in AD 1300, to try and put the bite on Ash? Well, honestly, you won’t find answers in this issue, since Vampi doesn’t fully appear until page 16 of this 20-page story, and her first encounter with Ash is light on conversation and heavy on fangs and shotgun blasts. But I’m sure that once things come down, they’ll have plenty of time to sort things out—that is, if Ash can stop staring at her boobs long enough to pay attention. He’s easily distracted.
Storywise, Rahner knows his Ash—the character here is as boorish and loudmouthed and full of himself as he is in the source movie, and his reaction to a sexy vampire putting the moves on him is well in keeping with Ash’s reputation as an equal-opportunity face-puncher. Some of the nods to the movie (for example, the phrase “Klaatu verata [fill in the blank]”) may be lost on Vampi fans new to Ash’s world, but it’s a minor quibble. Morales’s art, however, looks a little too rough, but perhaps that’s intentionally meant to reflect the rough living of the time period.
Bottom line? Although light on Vampirella action, it’s clear this first issue is more focused on setting up Ash’s part of the story—and really, in an Army of Darkness miniseries, wouldn’t you expect that? So, come for the drunken revelry, stay for the sure-to-come mayhem.
Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1
Written by Mark Rahner
Art by Jethro Morales
Main cover art by Tim Seeley
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
32 pages • full-color
On sale July 8, 2015
Special note: In case you missed it, check out my review of the recently released Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead by Dawn #1, the start of a miniseries from Space Goat Publishing that picks up where the prequel movie to Army of Darkness left off, but heads in a whole ’nother direction.