Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s Graphic Content – in this installment, we cover the new title, The Army of Darkness: 1979 #1. This is a special treat as it introduces a new title from column-favorite writer Rodney Barnes of Killadelphia. Killadelphia is one of the best horror comics of 2020 and 2021 – so expectations here are pretty high.
Does this new comic deliver a great Evil Dead-style story? Let’s find out.
The Army of Darkness: 1979 #1
In the South Bronx of 1979, gangs gather. Dressed in flashy, thematically appropriate outfits, you would assume we are re-treading ground from Walter Hill’s 1979 gangsploitation film, The Warriors. And you would not be far off; these gangs seem to control the city and come to a meet, only to find themselves at the mercy of a new gang, the Warlocks. And to make matters worse, this new gang is holding the Necronomicon Ex Mortis straight out of The Evil Dead. Now throw in Ashley Williams in 2021, looking for work, only to be pulled through time by a Deadite portal in the midst of a supernatural gang war.
It’s a fun setup for a story featuring America’s favorite chainsaw-handed sweetheart. This story comes from the age-old storytelling process of “what if *this* in *this*?” and it already seems to be paying off. The story comes from Rodney Barnes, the writer of my favorite horror series of 2020/2021, Killadelphia. Barnes’ history of writing for film and TV pays off here with Ash, and Barnes nails the first issue setup. We have a fun conflict, our unwilling hero, and immediate complications, all done in around just over 20 pages. Barnes also has an excellent grip on what makes Ash such a fun protagonist. You can’t read Ash’s lines without hearing them. So, high marks for getting the character right.
My biggest issue is that the book seems deep into the continuity of The Army of Darkness comics, and there is a missed opportunity. Take, for example, Ash in 2021. For people who may only be picking up the book because Barnes is attached after the considerable success of Killadelphia, there may be confusion. After all, some readers may only be picking up the story with knowledge of the movies and the recent TV show. The Ash of recent years is undoubtedly older than the Ash portrayed in the book, and the ending of The Army of Darkness film didn’t seem to place Ash in 2021. So… what gives? Some catch-up of events from the mouth of Ash would have worked wonders here. A pithy narration highlighting the fundamental continuity of events would eliminate a lot of potential confusion. It would also be a fun read, given Rodney Barnes’ apparent knack for writing Ash’s dialogue.
The art is appropriate for the story, with good attention to detail to make that tropey 1970s New York as dirty and dangerous as possible. Backgrounds have texture and are laced with tagging, litter, and broken windows. It looks like the cinematographic New York from movies like The Warriors. So, very high marks indeed for artist Tom Garcia. His character work is strong, with characters finding that right mix between cartoony and realism, which benefits the more exaggerated nature of this world. His Ash is also quite good. Ash Williams is more or less a cartoon to begin with, so his square jaw, chainsaw hand, and blue shirt are among the easiest things to get right. Not to diminish Garcia’s approach, however, more that the living cartoon that is Ash informed the rest of the look of the cast, down to the garish gang looks. Additionally, Dinei Ribero’s colors are well done, particularly in using sickly hues of green and red.
A mashup of classic Evil Dead-style fun with a wild world inspired by The Warriors promises to be an exciting ride. Barnes confidently captures for voice and character of Ashley Williams, and the pastiche of the 1970s street punk classic feels authentic. The only real downside is that while relatively self-contained, the series builds on a whole publishing history of Army of Darkness comics from Dynamite Entertainment so that new readers may have many questions. Ultimately, while this feels like another “episode” of the adventures of Ash, a little more context might be helpful for people jumping on board. (4 / 5)
The Army of Darkness: 1979 was written by Rodney Barnes with art by Tom Garcia. Dinei Ribero contributes colors while Troy Peteri handles the lettering. You can buy this issue directly from Dynamite Entertainment, or your local comic book shop.
Are you a big fan of the Evil Dead series? What did you think of The Army of Darkness: 1979? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to pitch comics to review.
Next week we return to classic Swamp Thing.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.