Dynamite Entertainment has gotten a lot of use out of both Vampirella and Ash from The Evil Dead franchise. Both of them have spun off multiple series, with Vampirella alone appearing in a new Swords of Sorrow series, an alternate universe one-shot, a Legenderry steampunk series, and a Dawn/Vampirella comic. Now, writer Mark Rahner and artist Jethro Morales want to pair two admittedly popular characters for a mash-up of epic horror proportions, pitting Ash against (or maybe after issue #1, with?) Vampirella in an Army of Darkness setting.
However, Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1 does very little to set up whatever Rahner’s attempting to get out of this series. The issue takes quite a while to get into the plot – actually, one could argue that it takes literally the entire issue until the conclusion – instead introducing the reader to the the Army of Darkness setting in 1300 AD where Ash has finally assimilated into society. There’s still his gal pal Sheila, and there are still hordes of the undead along with a large monster known to the locals as “The Great One.”
Other than that, though, Rahner spends a lot of time setting up the lore of the setting, something that, for most fans of Ash and Army of Darkness, is mostly filler. At the same time, the Ash of Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1 is a much more annoying, chauvinistic character than he’s been portrayed as in film – Rahner focuses on his womanizing (not unlike Ash) in such a way that it becomes cloying and downright unlikable. The jokes mostly fall flat, especially when Ash is doing things like slapping Sheila’s ass and claiming that that’s commonplace in contemporary society.
Rahner’s irritating portrayal of Ash aside, there’s really little else happening in this issue. Vampirella is introduced late in the book, and for the title character of this series, the point of her presence is still relatively unknown. It’s unclear whether Ash and Vampirella are meant to be working together, and Rahner doesn’t indicate whether Vampirella is actually the Great One or not. Instead, the ending is mostly ambiguous and does little to set up a clear arc.
However, Morales’ artwork is very good. The little we get to see of his Army of Darkness monsters is intriguing, especially the final full page demon layout. Unfortunately, the most Morales gets to do in Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1 is depicting old men, Bruce Campbell’s cleft chin, and some ample bosoms.
Vampirella/Army of Darkness #1 isn’t a great start to the series despite how much I like both of the title characters. But Rahner’s writing for Ash doesn’t hint the right character notes, making this a series that misses the beloved features of Army of Darkness. Likewise, with little story development, the first issue is about as skeletal as the bony Deadites.