Beginning in February, Dynamite is launching an ongoing Army of Darkness comic written by Elliott R. Serrano (Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama) with art by Marat Mychaels (Grimm Fairytales, Deadpool Corps). The new series goes right ahead and genderswaps Ash as the deadite threat infects not only the known universe but unknown, parallel ones, too.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Listen up screwheads! A new chapter in the Army of Darkness saga begins here! As the evil of the Necronomicon spreads across the cosmos, a new ally in the war against the Deadites emerges. Who is the woman named “Ash” and what relation does she have to “The Chosen One” Ashley J. Williams? And who is the alien Deadite creature who follows her across time and space? The answers lie deep within the pyramids of ancient Egypt…in a parallel universe! The adventures of everyone’s favorite chainsaw swinging, boom-stick wielding hero continue here!
We spoke with Serrano about Ash, deadites, Lady Ash, and how Evil Dead 2’s chainsaw/hand gag made an indelible impression on young Elliott.
MTV Geek: What was your first experience with Army of Darkness/Evil Dead?
Elliott R. Serrano: My very first exposure to the Evil Dead films was when I saw a clip of Evil Dead 2 on television. It was an excerpt that was being used in a news piece about violence in movies and how it affects kids. Of course, the scene they used just had to be the one where Ash takes a chainsaw to cut his hand off and sends blood spraying everywhere. The scene lacked context, obviously, but I remember thinking “that’s some f***ed up s**t.”
I would later see Army of Darkness in the movie theater. There was just something about that image on the movie poster of Ash with the chainsaw as one “hand” and his “boomstick” in the other that pulled me in. It appeared to me that AoD was going to be more of an adventure film than a horror movie. After that first viewing, I was hooked. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was surprised that it had so much slapstick and a sense of humor. I sure wasn’t expecting that, especially the little nods to “The Three Stooges.”
As I went back and saw the previous films on video, I discovered that AoD was the film with the most humor and where Ash really has that “cocky dork” persona, spouting cheesy catch phrases to look cool. Next I saw Evil Dead 2 on video, which while it is a horror film, there’s a point where the movie takes a turn for the funny and goes from being creepy “cabin the in woods” story to a “Three Stooges” bit. I finally saw the first Evil Dead film after that, which was just plain creepy to me.
Geek: How did you get the gig working on the ongoing?
Serrano: I was fortunate in that I impressed Dynamite Comics Publisher Nick Barrucci and my editor Joe Rybandt with the mini-series Ash Saves Obama. The mini proved to be rather challenging, what with the balancing act we had to do with telling an Army of Darkness story while trying to capitalize on the trend of having President Obama appear in comic books. It’s the sort of thing that can go really wrong, really fast, and I think we pulled it off rather well. On top of that, both Nick and Joe know what a big fan I am of Ash, so they gave me a shot.
Geek: Looking at the story itself, why the particular character you chose here to head up the beginning of the new ongoing? What did they add the mix?
Serrano: Well, it’s no secret now that we are introducing a new character to the mythos in “Lady Ash” who is an alternate universe version of “our” Ash. She is kind of the polar opposite of the male Ash, and while she has had very similar experiences as he has, she’s dealt with them rather differently. We meet her in the first issue of the new series and we get to know, rather quickly, how different she is. And I don’t just mean that she has boobs. “Lady Ash” is special in that she’s going to play a BIG part in “our” Ash’s ultimate destiny as “The Chosen One.”
As far as the mix goes, what we’re doing is exploring some themes that have been established in previous AoD comic-book series, namely that the reach of the Necronomicon not only extends across time, but space and alternate dimensions as well. This opens us up to some interesting new avenues and settings for stories outside of what we’ve seen before.
Geek: Along the same lines, why this particular era and remix of elements from the film? What was the appeal for you?
Serrano: After everything that has been done with the character by previous creative teams, I wanted to take a “back to the basics” approach with Ash, while progressing to what I felt was the next logical step in his evolution. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi often talk about how Ash goes from being this coward in the first Evil Dead film, to a hero by Army of Darkness. I thought it would be fun to see what places I could take the character beyond that.
I also wanted to write the series as something that new readers could pick up without having read all the previous books. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know all you need about the character and the setting. Although if you ask me, he’s not that complicated a character to “get.” He’s a dude who fights monsters with a chainsaw and shotgun. Nuff’ said.
Geek: Tell us about your take on the deadites—more horrific or comedic?
Serrano: That will depend on the story and the tone we’re going for in each arc. The deadites really are so versatile in that they can be used as both horror and comic devices. We’re playing the deadites fairly straight in the opening story arc, but that can change with the next and so on.
Geek: We’ll get a sense of the “source” of the deadites. Do you have any concern about over-explaining them/removing the mystique?
Serrano: I’m going back to being intentionally vague about them, just for that purpose. While I’m not going to come out and contradict anything that’s been said about them before, I do want to try and return them to being more mysterious creatures of mystic origin. In the end, I don’t think it’s all that necessary to explain who/what they are except for being badass zombie-type monsters that can swallow your soul.
Geek: Could you provide our readers with a little insight into the “big bad” of the series? Maybe some hints as to what he/she is up to?
Serrano: I’ll be following the Joss Whedon formula of setting up a “big bad” for the “season” of the first, major story arc and go from there. We do get to see the “big bad” in the very first issue of the new series, but they aren’t the only threat that Ash will be dealing with as the story unfolds. Given the chance, I hope to put together a “rogues gallery” of deadite-inspired menaces for Ash to deal with over time.
As for hints, I do drop some major ones in the first issue of the new series, but if you’ve read any of my previous AoD works—whether it was the Ash Saves Obama mini or my AoD one-shot Montezuma’s Revenge—I’ve actually foreshadowed what’s to come in those books as well. I’ve been thinking about what I would do with AoD for a long time.
Geek: What were some other runs of the title that you used as inspiration for the series?
Serrano: The film is the biggest inspiration. I’m especially fond of the AoD adaptation that Sam and Ivan Raimi wrote way back when the film was first released, with art chores being handled by John Bolton. I have the original issues from Dark Horse Comics, along with the reprint collection that Dynamite did a while back. I also really enjoyed the early stuff that Andy Hartnell and James Kuhoric did with Nick Bradshaw. I liked the “animated series” feel of those issues, but Nick Bradshaw’s doing work in video games and very little comics, and it’s hard to find someone of Nick’s caliber in this market.
Thankfully, while a different style, we still have the quality work that fans will expect.
Marat Mychaels, my artist on AoD is doing a bang-up job on the book, though. He’s bringing that “hyper-realistic” feel that the story needs to work best. I couldn’t be happier!
Geek: And what did you feel was the most important element to capture about Army of Darkness?
Serrano: Again, striking a balance between humor and horror is paramount. The deadites can be comedic foils, but we should always realize that they are a serious threat. These things have killed Ash’s friends quite mercilessly and have been tormenting him for years. They’ve pushed him to the brink of insanity. There’s a reason they’re called the “Evil Dead” and not the “Kinda Bad Dead” or the “Comedically Naughty Dead.”
Geek: What else are you working on?
Serrano: When I’m not trying to figure out how to torture Ash, I’m working on my blog “Geek To Me” (www.geek-to-me.com) for the Chicago RedEye and writing a column for Bleeding Cool. I’ll also be writing a column or two for the Dynamite Entertainment web site as well as embarking on the “Army of Darkness: Kick Ash Comic Shop Tour” at Chicago-area comic shops. I’ll be signing books and touring with my roommate, The Necronomicon. He’s a real pill to live with, I’ll tell you that! He’s always drinking all the beer in the fridge and never offering to pay for the next round. I told you those deadites were evil, right?
Army of Darkness will begin its ongoing run at Dynamite in February.