(Big thanks to Prince Adam for this…Sorry I didn’t quite get it posted in time for the Starz premiere, but acts of pure genius take time, y’know??? 😉 xoxo)
“Adapted from the screenplay by Sam and Ivan Raimi. Adapted and illustrated by John Bolton. This trade paperback presents the complete adaptation of the Army of Darkness feature film! Featuring 88 pages of non-stop Ash action”
When the description says complete adaptation of the feature film, they really mean it. It’s pretty much all here. The book does move at a brisk pace, but not because the story’s been dramatically edited, but rather because the story hits the ground running and never allows you a chance, want, or need to put it down. All the major moments from the film are all covered and handled faithfully. We have Ash’s discovery of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, and his subsequent transportation to 1300 A.D. We see his time as a slave, and his ultimate emergence as a hero when he escapes the pit, and battles the deadite and survive. The battle at the windmill with the mini mirror versions of himself is intact, and affirmed itself as one of my favourite moments of the book, just as it was in the film. And then of course, the third act battle with his evil doppelganger Anti-Ash and his undead army, For me, this adaptation because even though I’ve seen it, the change in mediums from film to comic, makes it fresh and exciting. And if you haven’t seen any of the Evil Dead films, and somehow stumble upon this comic book/graphic novel, you will be fascinated. It’s probably one of the darkest, weirdest sci-fi/horror stories I’ve ever read, while also being the most humorous. Speaking of humor, a lot of it comes from the thought bubbles. When Ash is monologing in his mind, it seems as if he’s recounting the story we are seeing, presumable to a co-work like in the film. Most of the humorous dialogue can be found here. There’s one crack about horses, that I’m sure wouldn’t make PETA laugh, but hearing the line in Bruce Campbell’s voice, certainly made me chuckle. You can’t help but love the character of Ash, he’s the everyman. He’s brash, tells it like it is, has a penchant for violence, and will kick ass when he needs to, and likes to kick back with some beers. If you think of it, he’s like the horror genre’s Stone Cold Steve Austin in a way. Even though he stays in the past long enough to help vanquish his Deadite clone and the Army of Darkness, and even though he begins to fall for Sheila, it never feels like one of those forced or clichéd moments. Ash’s personality is never compromised to placate Hollywood stereotypes. I loved that the book chose to use the films intended ending, rather than the one featured in the theatrical cut of the film. Ash drinking too much potion, and oversleeping, and waking up in what looks like a post apocalyptic London. This ending works because it is more in line with Ash being a bit aloof, and it makes sense that he’d drink too much of the potion, causing him to oversleep, thus waking up in the wrong time. It also offers plenty of story potential that I hope the comic books delve into.
John Bolton not only adapted the film’s screenplay from a writing standpoint, he also drew the adaptation. Being both writer and artist on a book is demanding work, so Mr. Bolton gets an extra tip of the hat from me. What I like about the art is that the characters bare a very strong resemblance to their live action counterparts. It’s not as true to life, or detailed as Alex Ross art, but virtually no one can live up to that standard. But the resemblance to Bruce Campbell helped because I was hearing his voice when I read the dialogue. It definitely made for a more immersive experience. Two scenes that were drawn absolutely perfectly were the battle with the Deadite in the pit, and Ash Vs the Mini-Mirror versions of himself. This is a fine example of transplanting screen to page. I think these two pages are the closest you can get to transferring the actual film cells to the printed page. As far as a favourite single page, that would have to be the third page where Evil Ash has his deadites bring Sheila to a baron location, and we see him sitting on a makeshift throne in the middle of nowhere. This page visual hits the point home that Evil Ash is the King of the dead. Also, for anyone else who read it, was there a little bit of nip slip when Evil Ash was forcefully groping Sheila, or were my eyes playing a trick on me? Every time I see something set in a medieval period, my mind always drifts to Game of Thrones, and I fell into that trap again, until Ash’s tricked out Oldsmobile Delta 88 comes crashing through the castle door. You’d think without the sounds or musical score of a film that, the juxtaposition of that imagery would feel awkward or seem out of place maybe? Nope, it’s just a badass action sequence. The only problem I had art wise, was what seemed to be an almost Instagram like filter on the page. I would assume this is a colorists decision, and at times the grainy look of it took away from the detail of the art. Secondly, the blood and gore in this book seemed to be predominantly take place in the first issue of the three issue arc and was pretty sparse the rest of the way. Maybe it’s just the way the screenplay had to be split into comic book form, but I remember the film featuring more blood and gore.
If you’ve seen this movie or any movie in the Evil Dead trilogy, this graphic novel, will elicit positive memories for you. Don’t be surprised if you are in the mood to have a marathon viewing of the entire trilogy. A newbie to the franchise will definitely get everything they need to get hooked on the series, and be left wanting more. Either way, this book is a great primer to get you ready for Ash Vs Evil Dead which brings the series to live action television on Starz,
premiering which premiered on Halloween (and was awesome 😉 -D.P. ;)).