Sunday, 2 August 2015

Vampirella/Army Of Darkness #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

Based upon the 1992 comedy horror film directed by Sam Raimi, “The Army of Darkness” comic books have predominantly concerned the “Evil Dead” series main protagonist, Ash Williams, ‘teaming up’ with a variety of other popular literary characters in an assortment of crossover titles. Dishearteningly such publications historically have proved to be a genuine mixed bag as far as their commercial success has been concerned, with the franchise’s October 2013 one-shot “Army Of Darkness/Reanimator” selling a pitiful 3,751 copies upon its release.

For this particular four-issue mini-series though “Dynamite Entertainment” are clearly hoping for better things, having decided to pair the prosthetic-handed exorcist up with one of the company’s other well-known ‘fright-fest’ licences, Vampirella; a blood-drinking superheroine who was created in 1969 by Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins. Indeed advertised as “the horror mash-up you’ve all been waiting for” on paper at least, this magazine would genuinely seem to have had a lot in its favour, especially as it should be “full of bloody chainsaws, fanged vixens, demon possessions and boomsticks aplenty!”

Sadly however Mark Rahner’s script is an especially disappointing sedentary affair, and worryingly typical of the veteran journalist’s substandard writing whilst on the short-lived poor-peddling periodical “The Twilight Zone: Shadow & Substance”. In fact it is genuinely hard to associate this twenty-page castle-based wearisome ‘whodunnit’ with the gory somewhat tongue-in-cheek shenanigans seen during the action-packed $21.5 million grossing cult motion picture.

Admittedly the Seattle-based podcaster’s Ash is every bit the wise-cracking ignorant incompetent as seen in the movie trilogy. But whereas on the ‘silver screen’ actor Bruce Campbell managed to also imbue Williams with appealing ingenuity and something close to determined bravery, this narrative’s disagreeable incarnation of Empire Magazine’s Number One Greatest Horror Movie Character smacks of all-consuming chauvinistic arrogance and genuinely purveys the impression that the entire adventure is simply a boring interruption to his drunken medieval womanising.

Discouragingly such an unimpressive storyline even seems to have detrimentally affected the illustration work of Philippine-based artist Jethro “Jett” Morales. The “emerging” sketcher’s original pencils/inks would appear to have been done a terrible disservice by Morgan Hickman’s flat-looking two-dimensional colours, to the point where both of the comic’s antagonists would arguably be unrecognisable if not for their iconic costumes.
The variant cover art of "VAMPIRELLA/ARMY OF DARKNESS" No. 1 by Tony Fleecs


  1. Oh, woe is me! What a thoroughly disappointing issue! The only thing I liked about this comic was the front cover you've shown in your top picture. Sadly, Ash came across as a total jerk. Arrogant, immature and petulant are not likable qualities and yet they best sum up this portrayal of a hero who deserves better. As for my favourite superhero, Vampirella, what a let down. This is most emphatically NOT the woman I know and love so well. I found the script unsatisfactory and the interior artwork appallingly bad. That said, I will stick with this mini-series, simply because I am such a devoted fan of Vampirella.

    I note that this is only the second Vampirella comic you have reviewed for this blog and both issues were stinkers. I hope they don't give the impression that all Vampirella tales are this bad. That is far from the case. There have been some truly extraordinary stories and artwork spanning Vampi's very long comic career.

    1. Thanks Bryan. I'm not a fan of Mark Rahner's writing at all I'm afraid, though this was quite possibly his worse outing for me so far. I'm obviously hoping that the imminent "Aliens/Vampirella" crossover is significantly better than this. I will also probably stick with this mini-series - though there are so many better titles out there imho.