Dan’s Comic Reviews: Week of Aug 12th 2015

Ash Williams fights for his life in “Vampirella/Army of Darkness”, trouble is a-brewing in “Stumptown”, and “X-O Manowar” blows my mind – all in this week’s reviews from Dynamite, Oni Press, and Valiant Comics

AODVampi-02-Cov-A-SeeleyVampirella/Army of Darkness #2

Writer: Mark Rahner
Artist: Jett Morales
Colorist: Morgan Hickman

“My name is Ash. And I’m a dead man.” The legendary housewares employee opens this issue fending off a beastly version of the definitely-not-beastly Vampirella. The pairing of these two horror icons makes so much sense it’s surprising that this is their first crossover. Vampi has existed in one form or another since the 70s while Ash Williams has found a vibrant post-film life in the funny books encountering the likes of Herbert West, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger.

My only real gripe with this issue is Ash’s face (based on the chiseled good looks of Bruce Campbell) appears off model occasionally and pulls me out of the story. Luckily Rahner keeps Ash’s personality consistent. Rahner’s Twilight Zone books had a hint of humor and with Ash as his leading man he can really let the jokes fly. And I do mean fly – hilariously outmatched, Ash resorts to Three Stooges tactics to survive. There’s something special about a demon getting beaned in the face with a turkey leg. Sam Raimi would be proud.

5 out of 7

Stumptown #Stumptown #77

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Justin Greenwood
Colorist: Ryan Hill

Who knew delivering a batch of incredibly rare coffee could be so complicated? Between mysterious go-betweens willing to bribe her in gold coins and a pair of would-be hipster thieves, this has been one headache-inducing job for Dex… so naturally she takes the offer to deliver another batch of the ludicrously expensive civet-farmed kopi luwak. Against this farcical case we have drama at home with Dex’s wild child sister Fuji almost immediately wearing out the welcome of her impromptu visit. We get to see many shades of Dex here, from warmly putting her special needs brother to bed to her unshaken integrity in the face of a billionaire who isn’t used to hearing “no.”

Rucka’s writing hits beat after beat while Greenwood’s art keeps the story chugging along. This is one that flows smoothly from line to letter like that first cup of morning joe. Hill’s coloring subtly provides support but takes a moment to shine in one sequence showing the passage of a few days via an alternating palette. All these factors and the literally laugh-out-loud moment that closes this chapter make this issue a winner.

6 out of 7

XO_039_COVER-A_SANDOVAL1X-O Manowar #39

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona

Coming off of his lovely wedding and defeating the planet-destroying Dead Hand force I assumed things would be slowing down (at least momentarily) for Aric of Dacia. After all, with this storyline labelled “Exodus” I imagined our armored Visogoth warrior leading the Vine refugees to a new planet like some sort of interplanetary real estate agent. “Between Worlds” is not that kind of story.

Touted as a new jumping-on point for the title, issue #39 deftly recalls the series’ past like the catastrophic invasion of the Armor Hunters, the Vine’s history as enslavers to Aric and his barbarian kinsman, to the heart wrenching destruction of the Vine homeworld and a child who lost his mother in the disaster. The Vine come to Earth and… I can’t say much else without delivering spoilers but this is one of the most shocking issues yet. It’s one thing to be simply stunned but another entirely to be surprised yet in reflection see the logical cause and effect. Venditti keeps raising the stakes on a series where I thought there was nowhere else to go. He does all this while still keeping his cast vibrant and fully realized. Not simple vessels to nudge the story along, they react entirely in character. No longer just the leader to his people but viewed as a savior to the Vine, Aric will have to cautiously exercise his kingly judgment after this. Hope you enjoyed your honeymoon, Aric – because it’s over.

7 out of 7

Dan Crotty

Dan Crotty is a Los Angeles immigrant who loves great stories, IPA, and Hot Cheetos. IG: dannylarusso

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