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Ash vs. Army Of Darkness #0

Written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers
Art by Mauro Vargas with color by Triona Farrell
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Longtime friends of Ultimate Comics, Chris Sims and Chad Bowers aren’t exactly stuck in the 90s. But they sure know how to get the most out of their trips there. Over at Marvel, this writing team has done X-Men ’92, a beloved run featuring the characters from that cartoon my generation loved, and Bad Blood, an original graphic novel pulling all the good stuff out of Rob Liefeld’s early work on Deadpool. And this week, Dynamite sends this pair to the video store for a sequel to that 1993 sleepover classic, Army Of Darkness.

The zero issue opens with a helpful recap for folks who may not have seen Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, or Army Of Darkness – Ash is a grimly comedic hero who lost his girlfriend and his righthand to the Deadite zombie forces attached to the hideous spellbook, the Necronomicon. At the end of the third movie, Ash tried to go back to work at a big-box store but ended up shooting a Deadite customer. Yikes.

So with this issue, HR has some stern things to say about public execution of store guests, even the monster ones, and Ash winds up home with a severance package. Swearing off the rescuer gig, he settles in for a beer and TV, but the beautiful Vice Principal of the local high school knocks on his door with some frightening news of Deadite infiltration into the town’s teenagers. So Ash is back in the saddle, and auto shop at Alan Shepard High is going to get groovy.

Fans of the original horror comedy series will love how tenderly this book feels about its source material, and new fans can just laugh at the jokes. You don’t need to see the execution to laugh at a news report quoting, “swapped blenders for a ‘boomstick’ and unleashed a hail of hot lead that has some people questioning the store’s policy of stocking fully-loaded firearms.” Sims and Bowers’ stories are usually very funny, and though they still need to establish their credibility for the horror part of the series, the brief glimpses into the haunted halls of Shepard High are a good start there, too. Ash’s character here is seamlessly part of the man we met back in 1981, and the thought of him in the public school system is already a trip.

Even better, Ulti-fans, writer Chris Sims will be at Ultimate Comics Cary (1301 Buck Jones Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606) this Saturday from 11 to 2, so bring a copy down and see how many times this poor guy is going to have to say “Groovy” for a line of fans. You can also get copies of the Bad Blood novel at any of our locations, and ask a sales associate to help you track down his other work – I haven’t read a bad page out of this guy yet.

MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics