In Review: Army of Darkness Vs. Hack/Slash #4
The covers: The Main cover is by Stefano Caselli with an odd Ash and Hack below what appears to be the face of a metal band member. Ash looks nothing like Bruce Campbell and when did (or would) Hack do this move? I don’t care for this at all. The Variant A is by Tim Seeley and it’s a great shot of our leads being burned at the stake in their skivvies as a winged deadite and a witch watch. Outstanding! Ben Templesmith provides Variant B with our leads back to back, their bloody weapons on their shoulders. I love Templesmith’s art but there’s just too much empty space on the top third of this cover. The Subscription cover is by Ken Haeser and it’s a cartoony cover as kid Ash and kid Hack have their bags open for trick or treating on Halloween. Hack is a witch and Ash is Elvis, ‘natch. Cute, but this has nothing to do with the interior story. Overall grades: Main D, Variant A A, Variant B B+, and Subscription D
The story: I thought I had missed an issue, but Tim Seeley was just messing with me, as this issue opens in Stamford, Connecticut, 1692, as we witness the burning of Sarah Toothacker. She is condemned as a witch but is innocent. Her death comes quickly at the gallows, when suddenly she’s greeted by a kindly faced man of the present telling her, “It’s okay, honey. I’ve got you. We’re going to make everything right.” We then move to Pennsylvania where our heroes have just gotten another page of the Necronomicon back. Enter Hack’s “lifeline” Cat, who provides the next possible location for a missing page from this cursed tome. Ash has some hilarious dialogue with Cat and her passenger as the two ladies set up the plot of this installment. Meanwhile, Sarah’s savior isn’t what she thought he’d be as proven by the image at the bottom of Page 6. Things aren’t going well for our unlikely heroes either, and Ash’s decision on 8 had me laughing out loud, which only lead to me choking on the humor of 10. Seeley is the perfect writer for this pair! Once the final setting reappears on Page 12, the story goes frantic in the action, gore, and scares. All the while Ash is tossing out lines that only he could deliver, with Page 14 having one heck of a doozy! The conclusion is never really in doubt, only how Seeley will get the reader there. Page 20 was another laugh out loud moment, with the next two pages hinting of impending chaos next month. This was an exceptional read. Overall grade: A+
The art: Someone at Dynamite Comics must chain Daniel Leister to his desk because he is turning out page after page of insanely sick and comedically detailed art. Page 1 is a glorious historical rendering of a witch burning and the solemn resolution of the condemned–Fantastic! Page 2 contains her final images before death, her first being “reborn,” and a terrific establishment shot of what she looked like when reborn. Ash and Hack are terrific on every page, with our male lead bringing great comedic angst to each page (with Page 4 being a standout) and Hack being sexy and cool, plus more level headed than her partner. Page 5 is a great detailed scene, with one specific act being only in silhouette. The creatures in this issue are great, with that fantastic deadite on 11, the crawlers on 16, and the poor individual four panels later. I know it’s graphic, but you’ve got to be impressed by the details in the first panel on 19–it’s stunning. Leister can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Absolutely gorgeous, bright work on every page by Carlos Badilla. The lighting on Page 2 is amazing, the candlelight of 5 superb, the headlights of 8 and 9 great, the reds on 10 awesome, and the fantastic blues and oranges of the climax. Exceptional doesn’t come close enough to describe how well Badilla makes this art look. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Wow! What doesn’t Marshall Dillon do in this book? Scene setting, dialogue, Sarah narration, metal song lyrics, screams, yells, and tons of sounds, with SVVRRRN being the best. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Groovy, baby! Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th grade English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Wars, Star Trek or Indiana Jones items online.