From Film to Comics: Evil Dead/Army of Darkness

“Gutter of Horror” is a Brazilian column from Dinamo Studio website about horror comics.
This is a translated version of the articles.

Sometimes called “Evil Dead”, sometimes called “Army of Darkness”, both titles refers to the universe created by filmmaker Sam Raimi in the films Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness – and now including Ash vs Evil Dead tv series. The stories follow Ash Williams, a nobody that end up involved with Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text capable of release the forces of evil. Ash was played by actor Bruce Campbell who, since then, became strongly associated with the franchise. The series of films gained a cult following and was adapted for other media, including comics. In the comics, Ash travelled to space and time, fought classic monsters and meet several characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason, Vampirella and… Xena, the Warrior Princess? This and more, thanks mostly to Dynamite Entertainment. Let’s dive in into the many Army of Darkness Comics.

Army of Darkness (Dark Horse, 1992)

The transition to comics began in 1990s by Dark Horse, which adapted the third film of the franchise, Army of Darkness. It was adapted in a 3-issue miniseries with original script from Sam and Ivan Raimi, and ilustrated by John Bolton. The comics has the original ending was not in the final version of the movie.

Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (Dynamite, 2004)

In the 2000s, Dynamite acquire the rights over the franchise, relaunch the Army of Darkness adaptation and made a new 4-issue miniseries continuing the adventures of the character. In Ashes 2 Ashes, the story began where the third film left off with the Wise Man arriving into Ash’s time and telling him that this is not yet the correct time, and he’s actually moments before he let the woods in the first Evil Dead film. Once again he has to face evil in the woods, finds her past self and, with the help of the Wise Man, go to the past where the events from the third movie took place in an attempt to destroy the book that started it all. The miniseries was written by Andy Hartnell, with art from Nick Bradshaw.

Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop Dead (Devil’s Due/Dynamite, 2005)

Published by Devil’s Due and Dynamite, this new 4-issue miniseries is the direct sequel to Ashes 2 Ashes and follows Ash, back to Egypt, believing that the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis was destroyed forever. But the evil book found a way to return and one more time is at the hands of Ash's annoying boss, so he has to join his coworkers to fight against evil. It was written by James Kuhoric and illustrated by Nick Bradshaw and Sandford Greene.

Army of Darkness – Volume 1 (Dynamite, 2005)

Finally Dynamite decided to give Ash a regular title, which follows directly where Shop Till You Drop Dead left off. This first volume has four arcs: Ash vs Reanimator, where the character meets with Herbert West, classic H.P. Lovecraft character; Old School, where Ash returns to the cabin where it all started; Ash vs Dracula, where Ash has to prevent the Vampire from using the Necronomicon; and The Death of Ash, that close this first volume and ending up with Ash arriving in the Marvel Zombies Universe.

Army of Darkness vs Marvel Zombies (Marvel Comics, Dynamite, 2007)

With the success of the series about Marvel characters becoming zombies, Marvel and Dynamite made this crossover where Ash ends up going to the Marvel Zombies universe before the infection that was brought to earth by the Sentinel and had to join the resistance against the zombies superheroes. The 5-issue miniseries is written by John Layman with art by Fabiano Neves, Fernando Blanco e Sean Phillips. The story is cannon both to Ash’s and to Marvel Zombies chronologies.

Darkman vs. Army of Darkness (Dynamite, 2006)

In a great homage to the creator of Evil Dead, this crossover finds Ash meeting Deadman, another classic 1990s film series created by Sam Raimi. In the story, Deadman’s old love accidentally releases the forces of evil with Necronomicon and Deadman has to count on Ash to help fix the problem. It was written by Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek, with art of James Fry.

Army of Darkness – Volume 2 and 3 (Dynamite, 2007)

The second regular series of Army of Darkness lasted until 2009 and sees Ash travelling to different tim periods and alternated realities. There was also a third series that lasted 13 issues.

Ash vs Freddy and Jason 1 and 2 (Dynamite, Wildstorm, 2008; 2009)

It was only a matter of time for this to happen. Ash met Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) e Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) in two different occasions: the first, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, is based on a screenplay from a sequel to Freddy vs Jason film that was never made; the second is called The Nightmare Warriors and is a straight up sequel to Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, featurng cameos from several characters from these franchises.

 Army of Darkness and… Xena? And more than one? (Dynamite, 2008)

With the comic version of Ash well established in a universe where anything can happen, Dynamite brought this unusual crossover that happen not only one, not only two, but three times. In Army of Darkness / Xena: Why Not?, Ash travels to the world of Xena to destroy a mini-version of himself that could destroy that world. Xena/Army of Darknes: What, Again? puts Xena and Gabrielle in the 21st Century and Army of Darkness/Xena: Forever... And A Day puts Ash finding Xena in different points of her life.

Ash Williams and the universe created for the films found fertile ground in the comics, giving birth to a number of wacky stories and crazy crossovers with characters like Danger Girl, Vampirella, Hack/Slash and, more recently, Bubba Ho-Tep (from the movie in which Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley). He even saved president Obama!

Titles based on Evil Dead 2 (Space Goat, 2015)

Space Goat productions acquired, in 2015,the rights to the movie Evil Dead 2 (the aspects that involved who has the rights to what is complicated and it's not relevant for the moment) and decided to publish several comics based on characters from that movie. Beyond Dead By Dawn follows Annie Knowby and a copy of Ash in Hell; Cradle of the Damned is the direct follow up to Beyond Dead By Dawn; Tales of The Ex-Mortis is an anthology that shows people in different times and places who come in contact with the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis for; the Revenge of One-Shots, where Ash battles fiction and real villains (Revenge of Hitler, Revenge of Dracula, Revenge of The Martians, Revenge of Krampus, Revenge of Jack The Ripper, and Revenge of Evil Ed); Dark Ones Rising, where Ash and Annie accidentally release Cthulhu; and A Merry Deadite X-Mas, where Ash and Annie are summoned to a Deadite-infested Christmas theme park.

Army of Darkness was one of the movie franchises that had the most success in comics, spanning an enormous list of titles. If you are a fan of the film universe and still didn’t read any of the comics, I highly recommend. 
Rafael Algures is a Bachelor of Philosophy specialized in Neurosciences of Language. He is also a copywriter, content and science writer, and a comic book creator. His latest work, “Gutter of Horror: Transition” is available at Amazon – digital and paperback.

Further Reading: Army of Darkness Omnibus Volume 1, by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and others.