REVIEW: Army of Darkness/Re-Animator One-Shot

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Dynamite Entertainment has brought together two of horror’s classic characters: Ash, from the Evil Dead franchise, and Herbert West, the infamous doctor from H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator tale and movie of the same name.  Actually, this is the second time they’ve been brought together but I guess the first didn’t count.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Great take on Lovecraft’s story
Not what one would expect from the title
Cons

$4.99 price for partial reprinted material
Ash is almost a secondary character

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

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AOD:Reanimator_coverARMY OF DARKNESS/RE-ANIMATOR ONE-SHOT
Writer: Mark Rahner
Artist: Randy Valiente
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Colorist: Mike Cossin
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in Army of Darkness/Re-Animator: Ash Williams doesn’t have the best of luck. He’s always getting sucked into a vortex only to land someplace where he has to fight deadites. Herbert West is a medical doctor trying to reanimate the dead. He’s not having the best of luck either.

I SEE YOU DID YOUR HOMEWORK

Back in 2005, Dynamite released an Army of Darkness/Re-Animator mini-series that was quite good. Imagine my surprise when I saw they were doing it again as a $4.99 one-shot. “Why? How is this going to be any different?” I thought. Turns out, Ash would be meeting the Herbert West of Lovecraft’s short story rather than the 1985 movie and I have to say, it’s actually pretty good.

Mark Rahner certainly did his research when it came to “Herbert West-Reanimator”. All the beats and events are presented here only Ash has taken on the roll of the narrator from the story. All the story elements are here. West reanimating Miskatonic’s dean, West’s commanding officer from the war with his head in a pan, the traveling salesman and even the back-alley boxer make an appearance. Minute details also show up, such as the head shouting “Jump Ronald, for God’s sake jump!” to his detached body. Many of the events are told through flashback, but Ash is present for the salesman’s reanimation and West’s demise. And if you’re familiar with the story, Ash meets the same unfortunate fate as the narrator.

I was impressed with Rahner’s ability to mix all these elements together and tell a story that was more than “Ash vs. Herbert West’s monsters.” It was a cool twist and the two characters blended well together. Herbert’s psychosis is portrayed perfectly but Ash is unfortunately the wise cracking smartass he’s been written as for awhile now. I’ve not always enjoyed that characterization, though I suppose it is appropriate for a book with the Army of Darkness title. I just find he has become too over the top and warped from the movie. Luckily, Ash is less the buffoon here which pleased me but not all the jokes and quips work. Ash is almost a secondary character in the book, which may also irk some. There is the prerequisite gore, which will please fans. All in all, it was a really interesting take on the Re-Animator story and I commend Rahner for bringing something new to the table.

The most frustrating part about the book is the price tag. The cover boasts forty-eight pages but twenty-two are a reprint of Re-Animator #0 from 2005. Once again, a publisher decides to gouge the reader while only presenting a normal comic size’s worth of new material. In fact, it might have been a mistake as the reprinted story, and definitely the art, is somewhat better. On the other hand, readers who were expecting a story that Re-Animator #0 presents might be persuaded to go pick up the trade, so maybe Dynamite was right.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN

The art from Randy Valiente evokes some of the earlier, classic horror comics. Shadows are heavy and he has some good layouts but some of the faces are off, especially at different angles. I wasn’t particularly a fan but it suited the story and wasn’t off putting enough that my enjoyment was affected much. What I really liked was Mike Cossin’s coloring. There are various shades of green in almost every panel that match the serum that Herbert West uses. A nice, subtle detail that helped to bring the story alive and give it a Lovecraftian feel. Unfortunately, Nick Bradshaw’s in Re-Animator #0 overshadows this art. Bradshaw’s is kinetic, detailed and extremely different from Valiente’s. Of course, the second story is extremely different as well but I felt the two should have been separated.

BOTTOM LINE: GREAT FOR FANS OF LOVECRAFT

Army of Darkness/Re-Animator is a great mash-up of the two properties, especially for those who love H.P. Lovecraft’s original story. Mark Rahner wrote something new and different and mixed the two in a unique way. Fans of Army of Darkness may be somewhat disappointed as Ash is more a secondary character and the story is different than what one would expect. The art is suitable and the coloring is fantastic. Unfortunately, Dynamite is charging $4.99 for twenty-two pages of new material with the rest being a reprint, making it a hard sell for those who’ve already read Re-Animator #0. The Army of Darkness/Re-Animator one-shot earns 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆