Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (TPB)

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 @ 1:16 am | Comic Books, Evil Dead

Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (TPB)
Written by Andy Hartnell
Art by Nick Bradshaw
Released: 2007
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing and Dynamite Entertainment

Premise: The continued adventures of bumbling S-Mart clerk Ashley J. Williams, following on from the original ending to Army of Darkness. After battling evil in Medieval England, Ash is back at S-Mart. All is well, until he realizes the demonic force has followed him back through time… Hail to the king, baby!

The Trade Paperback collection of Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes collects issues one through four and features a complete cover gallery, including all four photo covers and art covers from: J. Scott Campbell, Marc Silvestri, Ben Templesmith, Greg Land, Richard Isanove, Nick Bradshaw, Aaron Lopresti, Michael Avon Oeming, Ale Garza, and Tim Seely!

Plot Breakdown (spoilers): After defeating the Deadite from the end of Army of Darkness, Ash spies the Wiseman who has followed him back to the present. He is told because of his mispronunciation of the mystic words, he has returned to his own time too early. Ash’s girlfriend, Linda, is still alive and he watches his past self drive off to the cabin with her. For rather dubious reasons, Ash follows, with the Wiseman in tow, to save his girlfriend and ensure his other self goes back in time.

The heroes soon find themselves in the woods, where they meet up with a terrified hunter being chased by a possessed rabbit. After Ash dispatches the bunny, the hunter becomes a Deadite also, and calls all the forest dwelling animals down on them. Blood and guts fly until they reach their destination – the cabin! Ash refuels his chainsaw in the work shed, and notices a fire burning nearby. Sitting by it is Linda, who quickly becomes a Deadite, and once again, Ash is forced to chop her in two.

Afterward, the trees attack by grabbing the Wiseman and Ash, pulling them way up into the branches. Ash manages to free them both, where they fall through the roof of the cabin only to find… Ash! At least, Past Ash, who has gone through the turmoil of his original clash with the Kandarian demons. So, for the sake of a splash page, it’s Ash vs. Ash, as the Wiseman tries to locate the book. The old man falls afoul of Ash’s evil hand, but emerges with the Necronomicon victorious. He opens the portal that sends Past Ash back in time as was intended. The book then reveals a vision of the future, which is ruled by the Deadites. This leaves just one option: return the book to its place of creation and destroy it forever.

FLASHBACK to 1300 A.D., where Arthur and Henry the Red are celebrating their victory over the Army of Darkness. The Wiseman has discovered how Ash has possibly doomed the timeline by misspeaking the words. With Deadites now after him, possessing Arthur and Henry, and led by Sheila, the Wiseman recites the spell “Klaatu Barrada Nikto” and is sent to the future.

The Wiseman relates this tale to Ash on the plane, which is traveling to the book’s birthplace. The pilots are revealed as Deadites, so our heroes bail out, landing in quicksand. Using his robot hand like a grappling gun, Ash pulls them both to safety. Deep in the forest, a ghostly voice warns them of the dangers lurking ahead. After a brief moment of soul searching between the two, the Wiseman is killed by Ash’s bad hand, which has tagged along from the cabin.

Ash buries the old man and pledges to destroy the book. Moving through a maze of tunnels, Ash suddenly grows a beard which tries to kill him. His hand attacks at the same time, leaving Ash little choice but to burn his beard off, so he can concentrate on overpowering his hand. Later, as he fights newly resurrected zombie mummies, his past self has saved the day in the 1300‘s. In the present, Ash’s evil hand races downstairs and attaches itself to a body – that of Evil Ash.

As Good Ash tries to solve an evil puzzle tomb, Evil Ash is raising his army of the dead. The Necronomicon, which is placed on a pedestal, lifts to the outside, with Ash giving chase and finding his evil self along the way. Cue Ash fighting simplified skeletons again for a couple of pages until…

Evil Ash gets the book, but is distracted by a portal opening. Past Ash rides out with his own medieval army in tow. Cue… more fighting. Both Past and Present Ash meld together, and continue the fight until a hole opens up swallowing the Deadites and the book. Hurrah!

Ash meets the Wiseman from the past who explains the book he has (from the past) must be thrown into the same portal they are leaving through. As usual, Ash blows him off when he notices Sheila. After a romantic scene together, she vanishes into the portal reminding Ash about the book. He pays no attention and rides off into the sunset, not realizing he’s left the Necronomicon behind.

Good Points: It was a huge thrill for me when I entered my comic shop and discovered Army of Darkness. Issue one was beautiful in its artwork and coloring, a style which shows what a cartoon series would look like. Best bit: The animals being chopped to shreds by Ash; cartoony gore everywhere and the shading of the blood is awesome!

Bad Points: Although the story is interesting enough to entertain, it is so full of inconsistencies it becomes a farce. Firstly, at the end of the film Army of Darkness, Ash is at work for his shift which goes awry. He must have been there for a while, so how come he didn’t notice Linda earlier? When Linda is in the woods, she isn’t decapitated as per Evil Dead’s one and two. Where is Annie, the Professor’s daughter? Finally, if Past Ash returns from the past, and amalgamates with Present Ash, how is Ash there in the first place!? The time-travel aspect really throws the story for a loop, and by the end, you are left scratching your head. Oh, and Evil Ash in modern day Egypt? What?!

Final Comments: Ashes 2 Ashes is a good try. It works because there were no new Army of Darkness products on the market, and anticipation for Evil Dead IV gets higher every day. The character of Ash needs more definition, especially as most of his dialogue in the comic is recycled from the films. With the publisher only having the rights to the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy, it means they can only use devices from that movie, which limits the stories.
Grade: B+

– by contributing reviewer Video Hero



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