What is Army of Darkness – Xena Warrior Princess: Why Not?

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While Batman V Superman got mocked for sticking something between its two leads I feel like the title needs something in there, “meets” or “vs” or “and” or something. Anyway with news that Lucy Lawless will be joining Bruce Campbell in the new live action Evil Dead t.v show I thought it fitting to recall that this is not the first time these two have met. Yes who can mention Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless together without springing to mind the seminal creation of the four issue miniseries from Dynamite publishing?

The story begins mid “Army of Darkness”, that’s Evil Dead three for those not in the know, right about the time that Ash breaks the mirror and has a hundred tiny evil versions of himself clambering around the medieval landscape he has transported too from his cabin in the woods after reading the ancient book of the dead; the Necronomicon. For those struggling to keep up this might not be the book for you. The thing with Dynamite press is that especially with books like this they are written by the fans, for the fans and they’re not too afraid to let people know it. Though interestingly Xena gets a bit of backstory in the book, because you know which is the nerdy cult figure here. Or maybe I’m just misremembering my early nineties history, we didn’t spend too long on it in class because I was raised on the British education system where History pretty much only talks about world war 2.

Anyway, out of all the mini evil version of him that come forth one has the brains to avoid being squished by a frying pan. Described as marginally smarter than his brethren this version checks out his own mini rucksack wherein he finds a mini version of the Necronomicon itself, or the minicromicon as it as described. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor Mini-Ash opens his book and reads the first spell that comes to mind. Unfortunatly he is as good as big Ash for reading ancient sumarian and manages to end up in the time of legends and heroes, or as we know it Xena the television show. Now considering that in the movie neither Ash, nor by extension his mini doppelgangers, had the Necronomicon in their possession nor even a bag to put in in, this might be why the others didn’t think of it. Now we can sit here and debate this continuity error but without it we won’t have a book so let’s just ignore it for now and move on, like before if you think this could be a problem for you then I suggest that this isn’t the book for you.

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Xena it turns out is fighting a rather angry troll at the edge of the fairy woods all because Autoclyus decided to relieve him of a present from his grandmother. This means that Xena is revealed to us arse first because hey why not.

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Still once this is resolved the party of three journey on through the woods while the exposition fairy decides to give us some backstory assuming that out of the two properties this would be the one people would struggle with, a woman fighting her own battles! How bizarre! However mini Ash overhears their own exposition about the fairies in turn, very meta, and comes up with a plan. Using his advanced knowledge of the future he will take over the fairy kingdom and lead its army to war against the humans, slaughtering all he comes across and claiming their riches for himself. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem to be fair as they are only six inch high fairies and Xena just managed to take down a towering troll single handed but still, this is enough to send ripples out through the space time continuum. Something that apparently the old man from the medieval era is monitoring, which is probably for the best because the department of temporal investigations only seem to pull their finger out half the time, the other half we have to sit through the temporal cold war story arch.

He arrives in modern day America to tell Ash that a section of the Necronomicon is missing in time and that he needs to retrieve it before all of space and time ends in a splat. He then proceeds to stock up on wide screen TV’s, booze and porn for some reason.

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Thus it is up to Ash to journey back to the time of legends and stop his tiny evil counterpart before it’s too late. Of course there is one more problem and that is the back catalogue of Bruce Campbell. Turns out that when he isn’t the star of a show it doesn’t get brutally cancelled in the first season or two and he had something of a role on Xena itself meaning that when Ash Williams goes back he has a doppelganger to contend with.

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This probably wouldn’t be so bad if Autoclyus didn’t have such a bad reputation that in many sections of the world people want to beat him senseless and then kill him before he can get a word in edge ways and if Ash wasn’t such an egotistic blow hard who had to punch, shoot or cut anything that stands in his way. Such as Xena and Gabrielle who rescue Ash from a pub brawl gone bad only to be told to get out of his way while he saves the world and prepare to lay some sugar on him.

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Yeah this Ash is probably the Ash you remember from Army of Darkness even if it’s not the Ash you saw in Army of Darkness, in this series he plays up to the oft remembered primitive screw head quote without recalling that just before that he had been spit on, chained up, pushed and beaten and chucked into a pit to die a horrible death.

Thus the story begins with dungeon escapes, rooftop battles and a lot of Bruce Campbell admiring himself. Now the artwork is decent, you can tell who everyone is from the show and there even seems, at least to me, to be some difference between Ash and Autoclyus other than the moustache and chin fuzz but not so much that you can’t tell they are at least similar. If you can’t the story tells you numerous times that they are close enough, perhaps a few too many? The story is defiantly silly and campy enough to please fans of Xena and the character of Ash carries it for fans of Evil Dead, both actual Ash and evil mini Ash who at one point rides on two leashed up half naked fairy women. The problem is that while Xena gets to hit stuff you think the actual competent hero could pull lead in the adventure at least once or twice other than throwing her little disc and fighting. Though I suppose they have got to make way for what people want and that is Bruce Campbell and Bruce Campbell vs Bruce Campbell. Still they manage to get a shameless plug in for another Xena miniseries so I suppose that’s something.

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