Army of Darkness is already a well-established cult classic, with the wonderfully pulpy dialog of Ash and cheeky, only kind of spooky, Deadites. Mixing in the band Kiss only heightens the camp factor and takes it to eleven, with each Kiss member using magic powers specialized to their theme and lyrics from their songs all over the dialog and issue titles. This comic is as wild as attending a Kiss concert, only to be pulled through a portal created by the Necronomicon and sucked into the Medieval past and being forced to fight Deadites to survive.
Let’s be real: few people come to Army of Darkness for its high-handed, critical acclaim. It’s enjoyable because it’s the perfect B movie, both terrible and fantastic. The writing in this comic is solid, but it’s not going to win awards. There are great references to Bruce Campbell as a person and actor outside of Army of Darkness and a general sense of meta to the whole comic. Overall it’s also oddly heartwarming, considering the general mood both zombie fiction and metal often has. The very picturesque ending to the comic is perfect for that campy tone, though, and is very fitting with the time period the comic is set within.
The art is fairly consistent throughout, though there is one section where Demon is recounting some backstory to Ash and the art switches to a simpler, flatter style, I think for comedic effect—like when characters draw what they’re talking about—but it’s incredibly stiff and awkward looking. There are a lot of very plain backgrounds and simple landscapes throughout; most of the detail is focused on the characters themselves instead. This is understandable, considering how high detail Kiss’ outfits are alone. But it is a little disappointing to have so many backgrounds just be a color fade, even if that’s what the sky is supposed to look like at that moment.
What fascinates me about this comic is the incredible niche market this potentially is appealing to. Fans of Army of Darkness are a much smaller group than fans of Kiss, so the cross-section feels rather tight. There are quite a lot of references to Kiss and Kiss fan culture, and I have to admit I periodically felt like I was missing the cues. Reading this without any information on how Army of Darkness is supposed to go would fall kind of flat, I believe. The whole point is that this story is something of a ‘what if’ situation that allows for the splicing in of Kiss.
Surprisingly, the comic is also not terribly bloody or gory. When there’s fighting, there are definitely moments of big blood splashes, but there aren’t detailed scenes of intestines or brains. It’s all very clean, considering there are zombies and heavy metal. This is such a quirky comic, I’m not sure exactly who I would recommend it to. Fans of Bruce Campbell and Kiss, of course, but outside of that, it could appeal to anyone who enjoys campy humor.
Kiss/Army of Darkness
By Chad Bowers and Chris Sims
Art by Ruari Coleman
Publisher Age Rating: T+
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Related to…: Movie to Comic