There’s hundreds of comics that cash in on popular movies in a shameless manner, with the likes of Robocop, Bill and Ted, and John McClane among countless others turning up in rather drab comics, but one of the films that has been spun off the most in the medium has been The Evil Dead, with Ash fighting all manner of different villains from famous movies. So far he’s battled against Freddy and Jason, Jack The Ripper, Dracula, and even the aliens from War of the Worlds, among many others, but this is the worst of his antics yet, shitting on two classic films in one go.
Perhaps worst of all is that it fundamentally misunderstands what made Bubba Ho-Tep so great. Sure, on the surface level it was about two possibly deluded men, one who thinks he’s Elvis and other believing he’s JFK, doing battle against a four thousand year old Mummy who sucks people’s souls from out of their arseholes, but at it’s core it was a very sweet and touching odd couple movie with Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis turning in the best performances of their careers as they tried to cope with how they’ve aged and how their lives have turned out. This just has the supposedly elderly Elvis as a kick arse monster slayer, all of the subtlety of the movie is completely missing and it’s just a bland, tired affair.
The two central leads end up meeting as Ash (which is the far younger version from the first couple of movies rather than the more interesting and layered one from the tv series) hears that Elvis is alive and so decides to seek him out, which yes, is completely out of character for this man. The Ash in the films and tv series is often a reluctant hero, wanting to carry on his life without having anything to do with the supernatural, at least until he doesn’t have any choice, but this version is actively seeking out exciting adventures to go on. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing but unfortunately the dialogue is tedious, in one scene he mocks a mall guard by calling him “Paul Blart”, which not only dates the work but is an example of how lazy a lot of the humour is.
The story isn’t exactly that interesting either, after Ash and Elvis meet up they fight some evil types and Ash gets transported to a weird version of Las Vegas, one from the seventies where Elvis is still known to be alive by the general public. He and Ash get in to a fight because, well, they had to fill the four issues somehow, with Elvis quoting his songs as he beats up Ash, saying nonsense like “F’r all I know, Yer th’ devil in disguise”, and writer Scott Duvall continues using this device until it becomes incredibly painful and in a manner which will make you groan rather than smile. Of course it’s not long before they team up and find the Necronomicon, and Bubba Ho-Tep, and there’s seemingly endless fight scenes with the duo making bad, bad jokes.
Most of the third issue is one long fight sequence between Ash, Elvis and Bubba Ho-Tep on Elvis’s plane, where all of the attempts at humour fall tediously flat, before they crash rather conveniently in to Graceland as lazy plotting is definitely the order of the day here. Then in the final part of the tale there’s another bland battle between Ash and Bubba Ho-Tep, with Elvis presumed to have died in the crash, and yet again the script fails to amuse, it gets a bit meta at one point with Ash crying out “Where’s the Deus Ex Whatchamacallit When You Need One?” and then seconds later the elderly Elvis smashes in to Bubba Ho-Tep while driving Ash’s Oldsmobile, and if I wasn’t pages from the end at this point I would probably have thrown it away.
The Evil Dead movies and tv series were so fun because they mixed inventively over the top gore with a lot of funny dialogue, but that is completely missing here, and other than the fact that it features the elderly Elvis and the villain from Bubba Ho-Tep it bares no resemblance to that film either. The only positive thing I can say is that the art by Vincenzo Federici is fairly strong and he mostly captures the two different versions of Bruce Campbell effectively, but otherwise this is a real disappointment, and I can’t imagine fans of either films finding anything enjoyable about it in the slightest.