It is an odd realization that Evil Dead is looking at coming up on its 40th year anniversary, a film that, for many, catapulted their interest into horror cinema. In addition, it is rather remarkable that that the film still holds up so many years later thanks to the creativity of Sam Raimi and the bravado of Bruce Campbell. The Evil Dead is practically an institution in horror and one that is damned deserved! This is particularly true in the realm of comics books, as Ash has faced all manner of villains while he’s teamed up alongside iconic heroes across the pages of mini-releases and one-shots.
However, out of all the titles there has only been one officially authorized expansion to the original film. Written by Mark Verheiden (Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Battlestar Galactica) and with art by John Bolton (God Save the Queen, Harlequin Valentine), the four issue mini-series has only been available in single issue format… until now! Dark Horse Comics, to celebrate the 40th anniversary, have brought together this series in hardcover edition. Set to release October 26, 2021, the release gives good reason for fans to be excited for a new edition.
What Is It About?
The plot follows the first film, which introduces Ash and his friends to the Deadites (undead with supernatural powers who thrive on causing chaos). Furthermore, writer Mark Verheiden interjects the witty personality of Ash Williams as a ballsy narrator. Containing some slight variation from the original, the work is a love-letter to the first film and the fandom it facilitated with subsequent releases.
Revisiting The Evil Dead with the narrative of the bad-a**, s***-talking Ash, which fans have come to know and love, it is is a delightful way to revisit the story from one of the most charming facets in the classic. As most fans know, the beloved persona Bruce Campbell created did not really start to take root until the second film and was only really cemented in Army of Darkness. Incidentally, Mark Verheiden understands that to just devolve the first film into camp humor would be a disservice to the intelligent horror elements. Proving his understanding, the balance between horror, drama and comedy is perfectly executed to homage the emotional moments of the Evil Dead movie (such as the death of Linda), while punctuating it with a quirky one liner that has come to define Ash.
This sincere love for the franchise is perfectly expressed in the afterword from both Mark and John. Massive fans themselves, it is always great to hear other nerd out about their passion and how they decided to approach bringing the cult classic into comic book format. Overall, the presentation of hard cover upgrade to single issues, and the humorous re-introductions to the work by the creators, makes for an ideal package.
John Bolton’s art matched the dulled tones of decayed blue flesh that is apt in capturing the bluish deadites of the cult classic. The muted tones bleeding into warped facial features really hits that 80’s aesthetic of the first film that has remained a timeless, gore-soaked, perfect vision of horror. Additionally, the release has a few full page spreads which are to die for! Certain to leave a lasting impression, the aesthetic works wonders for capturing the chaos.
What Did Not Work?
Undeniably, the art of John Bolton is the perfect fit for capturing the ‘evil dead’. However, the muddied tones look rather garish at other points in the book – a detriment to the mood of some scenes and not helping transitions. For example, when all is fine and well, or flashbacks to such times, Ash and the cast look garish and unnatural. As such, there is likely to be an initial disconnect from the work until the deadites start to flood the pages and properly utilize the style. Thankfully, panels divulge into horror quickly, allowing Bolton’s aesthetic to shine and leave a positive impression overall.
The only other negative lies in length, it feels like it could have been expanded into a six issue mini-series and the team of Bolton and Verheiden would have knocked it out the park. Consequently, it feels slightly rushed to keep pace with the original film.
Where Can I Read It?
Published by Dark Horse, this edition is set for release October 26th making it an ideal gift for the spooky season. You can pre-order it through Amazon or wherever good comics are sold.
For those unable to pick up the original run and unable to find single issues for sale, this hardcover release is a perfect way to celebrate 40 years of cinematic insanity (does not hurt it will release so close to Halloween as well). The title should appeal to those who don’t normally indulge in comics as it brilliantly combines the cool of Ash Williams of latter years with the gore infused chaos of the first film.
If you love The Evil Dead and/or are looking for the perfect Halloween treat for yourself or someone else, you can’t go wrong with this one. Personally, I know I will be revisiting it from time to time as it perfectly taps into my nostalgia for the series and the particular brand of dark comedy that the graphic novel conveys brilliantly.
Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.