WRITER: SCOTT DUVALL | ARTIST: VINCENZO FEDERICI | PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Hail to the King, baby. No, not that one, the other guy. The Evil Dead’s Ashley ‘Ash’ Williams has been a prolific figure in crossover comics for years now, starting with his Army of Darkness vs Re-Animator adventure in 2006. Since then, Ash has gone on to meet everyone from Freddy and Jason to President Obama and the official Marvel Zombies. Given Ash’s unlikely mantle as king of the comic book crossover, it was only a matter of time before El Jefe began crossing paths with other famous Bruce Campbell personas. Enter the Campbell-verse, if you will.
Elvis Presley, meanwhile, is relatively new to the comic book game. Or at least, the version of him as carved out by Bruce Campbell, Don Coscarelli and Joe Lansdale in 2002’s Bubba Ho-Tep. The cult classic has recently gotten its own comic book sequel from IDW (Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers), and now old Elvis returns in this crossover miniseries from Dynamite Comics. Their respective franchises may have died on the big and small screen, but clearly neither Bruce Campbell is going anywhere.
The two icons finally meet in Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep, in which Ash, upon hearing rumours of Elvis living out the last of his days in a nursing home in Texas, decides to seek the big guy out. Elvis, of course, is alive and literally kicking, and comic book convention necessitates that the pair fight for, uh, reasons, as soon as they meet. The book’s internal logic takes something of a dive here, and plausibility leaps right on out of the window, but there’s no denying that there’s a thrill in seeing the two groovy Bruces duke it out, however briefly.
Naturally, it’s not long before the Deadite plague rears its ugly head – wearing Elvis’s old duds no less – and the pair are dragged into something far bigger, badder and more bizarre than anything either of them have faced before (that time with Xena: Warrior Princess and Autolycus notwithstanding).
Ash and Elvis are a natural fit, and, visually, artist Vincenzo Federici does a solid job of meshing together the worlds of Army of Darkness and Bubba Ho-Tep. Befitting crinkly Elvis, his is a more realistic style than previous artists, while still bringing dynamism and atmosphere throughout. Writer Scott Duvall faces the unenviable task of handling the characterisation of both protagonists - and while his Ash is generally consistent with previously established (funnybook) versions, his Elvis is a little too sprightly and not entirely in-character with the curmudgeonly nearly-dead old fart of Coscarelli’s movie.
There’s plenty of room for this Sebastian Haff to grow on us though, with Issue #1 ending on a tantalising cliffhanger and promising much Ash/Elvis bonding time in the future. Whatever Duvall and Federici have in store for us, we can be sure that there’ll never be a dull moment – not with two enormous Bruce Campbell-shaped icons clashing at the book’s heart. Hail to the Kings, baby.