As a fan of the horror genre, I consider this a personal blasphemy on my part to admit … but… I HAVE NEVER READ ANY OF THE WORKS OF H.P. LOVECRAFT!!!! So there you have it. To my colleagues at Whatchareading.com, I say this…. “Light the torches. Call the villagers. Get the dogs. Let the name of Edward Gambichler be stricken from the site’s contributor obelisk. And call Texas to add another offense deserving of the death penalty. Whatever you do, tho’ do not allow Dr. Herbert West, M.D. to administer the lethal injection….”
“I’d like to STAY dead”.
I’m an example of nothing if not dichotomy. A total neophyte when it comes to the works of Lovecraft and yet, I know of one of his greatest characters. You can thank the work of another master of the genre, film director Stuart Gordon, for that. In 1985, Gordon adapted Lovecraft’s short story, “Herbert West – Re-Animator”, and released it in theaters as simply “Re-Animator”. The movie went on to become a cult classic and Dr. Herbert West M.D. became ingrained in 80’s film fandom’s collective conscious (thanks to a wonderfully disturbed performance by actor Jeffrey Combs). Now, Dynamite Comics have answered the silent prayers of all horror aficionados by bringing West together with another 80’s horror icon, Ash Williams, in its newest one shot “Army of Darkness ReAnimator”.
In this issue, iron-handed shotgun-wielding bad ass and S-Mart discount store manager Ash Williams (played by actor Bruce Campbell in all three films of director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series) is deposited in the year 1922 by a time vortex conjured up by the “Necronomicon” (the Book of the Dead). Dr. Herbert West stumbles upon Ash, in a graveyard, while exhuming fresh corpses to use as test subjects for a reagent he has been perfecting. This chemical compound has the ability to rejuvenate dead tissue. Unfortunately, it has the side effect of turning West’s stolen cadavers into violent and mindless zombies. Luckily for the doctor, dealing with the “living dead” is Ash’s specialty and West uses the Necronomicon to force Williams in assisting him in his insane experiments.
Writer Mark Rahner has a good grasp on the two protagonists, writing humor-filled dialogue that reflects their all too familiar personality quirks. However, during a Wikipedia search I did on Lovecraft, I came across the plotline for one of Lovecraft’s Re-Animator chapters, “The Tomb Legions”. It closely mirrors this story and it seems Rahner substituted the character of Ash Williams in place of the character of the Narrator ( West’s medical colleague ). I would have liked an original adventure worthy of this promising team-up . The art, by Randy Valiente, reminds me of Berni Wrightson’s early work on Swamp Thing (although the perspective is a bit off in some panels).
However, the saving grace of this one shot is the reprint of 2005’s ReAnimator #0. Written by Jim Kuhoric and sublimely rendered by artist Nick Bradshaw, this entry brilliantly captures the fevered lunacy of Jeffrey Comb’s film performance. With gorgeous hues by colorist Jim Charalampidis, it is my hope that Dynamite reunites this creative team for more tales of Lovecraft’s beloved Dr. West.
Army of Darkness/Re-Animator (One-Shot)
Writer: Rahner, Mark
Artist: Valiente, Randy
Cover Artist: Valiente, Randy
Diamond Id: AUG131234