Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep #2
Scott Duvall (writer), Vincenzo Frederici (art), Michele Monte (colors), Taylor Esposito (letters), Tom and Sian Mandrake; Robert Hack; Diego Galindo (covers)
March 20th, 2019
When last we left Ashley J. Williams, he had been sucked up by a time vortex while fighting an evil skeletonial mummy right after settling his differences in a fist fight with Elvis Presley. So, a typical day in his life.
In this second, duller issue of Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep, Ash is spat out into Las Vegas, circa the early-1970s, and decides to impersonate Elvis’ opening act so he can prevent the Necronomicon from being read at one of Big E’s concerts. This version of Elvis doesn’t believe Ash, not even when he tries to tell the truth, which leads to another brawl and the unleashing of more Deadites. That’s enough to make Elvis believe Ash, so they set off on Presley’s private plane to plant the Necronomicon in the safety of Graceland. Unfortunately, some drug-related experimentation causes some very, very ugly revelations to descend upon proceedings.
This issue definitely had me missing the more meditative tone of the first one. Not to say that a great rocking action scene isn’t important in an Army of Darkness comic; the best part of the whole issue is a younger Elvis and Ash beating the stuffing out of a Deadite. But the formula feels very routine, almost pat, and a carbon copy of how older Elvis and Ash initially met. Sure, it’s arguable that they’d fight in every single continuity in which they meet, but I would’ve appreciated there being a little more thought put into the encounter.
A lot of this could have been avoided by having the older Elvis follow Ash into the past; the fun and even the pathos that could’ve been wrung from that idea is a rich vein of material that will remain sadly unplumbed. Imagine Elvis trying to stop himself from switching places with Sebastian Haff, for instance, or trying to fix the askew relationships in his personal life. Instead, we get a fight at a gig that Elvis never had, and a confusing-from-a-writing standpoint (because how would Elvis or Colonel Tom Parker or anyone connected to him in the ’70s have ever found the Necronomicon in the first place?) hand-off of the Book of the Dead.
On the other hand, Vincenzo Frederici’s art is getting interesting; the rounded blockiness of the initial issue has changed a bit, with impressive but hazily-colored Las Vegas cityscapes rise up before Ash and Elvis, looking both alluring and nightmarish. The luxury of a glass of booze or a couple of dolls rolling out of a prescription pill bottle are also lit by Michele Monte with similar loving detail.
The lettering is an interesting stand-out in this issue; I love it when a letterer goes whole hog with a Deadite possession scene and the angle and quality of the font chosen really add to this one. But sadly otherwise the second issue of Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep remains a step down from the high peak of the first.