Ash Williams Goes Head To Head With The King In Army Of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Two cult classics clash for the first time in an epic crossover miniseries: Army of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep. Ash embarks on a soul-searching road trip to Texas on a hunch that Elvis Presley may still be alive and kicking (and supposedly vanquished a mummy)! What follows is a series of universe-spanning events that involve an Elvis jumpsuit with special time-travel abilities, a trip to 70’s Vegas, plus the reveal of an evil new Book of the Dead, the Necronomicon Ho-Tep. Has Ash met his ultimate match when trading barbs with a 4,000-year-old, foul-mouthed mummy who sucks souls? Can his idol Elvis mentor him through a mid-life crisis before it becomes his final crisis? Join the adventure in a road-tripping, time-hopping groovy tale!

It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty seven years since Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell unleashed Army of Darkness on the world. If you really want to get technical, Ashley “Ash” Joanna Williams has been cracking wise in the face of the undead since the first Evil Dead film back in 1981, but mentioning that makes me seem much older, and the title of this mashup is Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep #1, so we’ll start there.

Ten years later, the King of Camp struck cult video gold again with his portrayal of the elderly Sebastian Huff, who was really Mr. Elvis Aaron Presley, disguised and aging poorly. In Bubba Ho-Tep, The King and JFK save the residents of The Shady Rest Retirement Home (and maybe the world) from a re-animated Egyptian mummy cowboy. Elvis kicks it at the end. Makes it damn near impossible to pull a sequel, UNLESS…

Scott Duvall obviously has a great deal of respect for both cult classic films. The script hits all the right dark comedic beats as two of Bruce Campbell’s most sardonic characters face off for the first time. Elvis and Ash are so similar, they obviously aren’t going to get along straight off, and that first meeting offers some great lines of  biting wit. For three whole pages anyway, before the unlikely and unwilling duo has to team up in a fight for their lives against what appears to be the original Bubba Ho-Tep mummy, whose body may or may not have been used in an elaborate scheme to fake The King’s second death.

Vincenzo Federici and Michele Monte visually replicate the campy horror and dark comedy elements of the films, without lifting directly from either film. Recurring characters retain enough of their movie counterparts’ likenesses to be instantly recognizable, if not more than slightly caricatured. The colors pop. Action sequences are dynamic and easy to follow. This is a fun book to look at.

One of the challenges of a crossover like this is while both properties have a huge cult following, you have to be a fan of BOTH franchises to get all the callbacks and nods. The creative team does a fantastic job dropping readers right into the middle of this meeting without leaving either fandom too much in the dark. There’s only one sequence in this first chapter that really could have used just a little more explanation. That whole issue of Elvis’ SECOND faked death? Fully explained, if you’re intimately familiar with the ending of Bubba Ho-Tep. Maybe could have used some narration for the folks who aren’t.

Other than that one small issue and a couple nitpicky little other prop details (Ash’ iconic ride is a FOUR DOOR ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88), as a fan of both source films, I thoroughly enjoyed this opening chapter. Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep takes itself seriously enough to present an interesting, engaging story, but not enough to detract from the dark wit and dry charm of either franchise.

Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep #1, Dynamite Comics/IDW Publishing, released 13 February 2019. Written by Scott Duvall, art by Vincenzo Federici, color by Michelle Monte, letters by Taylor Esposito, covers available by Carlos Gomez/Salvatore Aiala, Tom Mandrake/Sian Mandrake. Robert Hack, Diego Galindo, and Emma Kubert/Brittany Pezzillo.

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