First Impressions – ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH #1

armyOfDarknessVsHackSlash_1_templesmith

Two titanic slasher killer killers join forces for the first time to fight against the darkness. It’s ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH #1, where it’s not really a versus series after the first misunderstanding! Cassie Hack thought the days of putting down undead murderers were behind her, but Ash Williams delivers the unfortunate news that it’s not over. Not when the Necronomicon is involved, and not when its evil hits too close to the Hack home. Will this unlikely duo survive, or will they finally be put in the ground?

The slasher horror genre is no stranger to the crossover. We’ve had Freddy Vs Jason, and Alien Vs Predator. But there is the rare moment when the heroes of horror team up against their enemies. But now we’ve got one here: ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH.

For those not already familiar, Army of Darkness was the third film in the Evil Dead movie series, starring Ash Williams. A simple S-Mart housewares employee, Ashley Williams was caught up in the evil of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, a tome that can raise the dead as demon-possessed corpses, among other things. It got into his hand, so he chopped it off. And then he went back in time to fight an army of such “Deadites” in Medieval Europe. That was the movie series, but since then Ash continued his fight against the Deadites and those that would abuse the Necronomicon’s powers…inside the land of comic books. I own a couple issues of the Army Of Darkness comic, and it’s quite fun at times.

And on the other side of the coin, we have Cassie Hack of the Hack/Slash series. This is explained better than could in an episode of Long Box of the Damned (Warning: contains trace amounts of Chucky, a villain I have a personal fear of). But in short: Cassie was the daughter of a lunch lady who chopped up kids that bullied Cassie. When her mother died, she rose again as an undead serial killer. After Cassie put her down once and for all, she decided to roam around, executing other killers returned to life as Slashers. Recently the Hack/Slash series ended, but has been collected in five omnibus editions.

In ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH #1, Cassie has settled down to raise a family with her girlfriend. But she is yet troubled by the untimely death of her old killer killing partner, Vlad, at the end of their series. She’s just trying to recover and have a normal life…until Ash breaks into her home. After the requisite misunderstanding, Ash finally reveals what he’s doing there: someone has obtained the Necronomicon, and is selling off pages from the tome to rich buyers. A paper trail of sorts led Ash to Cassie’s house.

It becomes clear that whoever owns the book and/or pages now wants Cassie Hack dead, for reasons unknown. And they’ll sacrifice and necrolize as many innocent bystanders as needed to end her. Cassie has no choice but to team up with Ash and hunt down the pages of the Necronomicon. Her happy home life will have to wait yet again.

ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH #1 captures these characters well. Or at least it captures Ash well, I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Hack/Slash. This issue does establish her as a capable fighter and an experienced slayer of ghouls, though. Ash, as stated before, acts like Ash: confident, snarky, and often the target of physical abuse. I think the biggest hurdle to jump for this series is balancing two very huge egos.

Artistically, the book is solid. And bloody. It’s a slasher comic, so blood is very prevalent. Not for the squeamish. Nor is it for those who despise the sexualization of women, as the book loves its cheesecake shots. If either of these is a turn off, steer clear.

I’m covering ARMY OF DARKNESS VS HACK/SLASH #1 rather late. At the time of this writing, the second issue is already out. I had thought of checking into it earlier, but upon seeing the Ben Templesmith alternate cover, I was sold. At least on the first issue. Right now I’m not looking for more ongoing series to add to my pull list, so feel free to read the book for yourselves and tell me how it goes.

Don’t tell me if it’s bloodier or skimpier, though. I can already guess that to be the case.

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