Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the graphic novel EVIL DEAD 2: BEYOND DEAD BY DAWN written by Frank Hannah and illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, Oscar Bazulda, and Edgar Salazar. Before we dive into the review proper, allow me to present a brief synopsis taken from the press materials:
"This sequel before the other sequel finds Annie and Ash trapped in hell with only the Ex-Mortis and the Kandarian dagger as weapons in their fight against a demon horde."
Reading that description leaves a lot of questions for hardcore EVIL DEAD 2 (1987) fans as to where exactly this fits into the movies series' continuity. As a massive fan of these films, allow me to assure all those readers that, this does make a lot of sense. None of what is presented here contradicts the movies, but instead it takes things in a completely different direction while keeping the same sensibilities that made the movie such a blood soaked delight.
Yes, EVIL DEAD fans, the blood flows just as freely here as in the movies. From simple stabbing to disemboweling a demon, they never skimp on the over the top violence. That being said, the layouts on these action sequence never quite captures the hyperkinetic look of the films and, once or twice, was a bit confusing. These moments were more the exception than the rule, though, so the book still remains accessible to new comic readers.
The art itself contained within the panels is a fun and splashy reinterpretations of the characters. In many ways it brought to mind the idea of an EVIL DEAD cartoon by way of glorious 1980's animation (which now that I have written that is something I would love to see). The characters profiles are larger than life with equally huge baddies for them to face. If I had to make one suggestion it would be that a lot of the general demons look very similar and I would have loved to see a bit more variety on that front. Apart from that, everything has a manic, cartoonish look which perfectly meshes with the outrageous source material.
Speaking of the source material, I should probably take a moment or two to comment upon the actual story at play. I was impressed that they were able to capture some of the lightning in a bottle that so thoroughly comprised EVIL DEAD 2 and its sequel ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992). While they might not mention the third movie in the series (this is set during the same time, but in a different way) it is hard not to compare this story to that movie as both have a much grander scale than that of EVIL DEAD (1981) or EVIL DEAD 2. While the first third is mostly setup, the last two thirds are all out action with plenty of laughs to boot.
All in all, the EVIL DEAD faithful should definitely give this a look as it nicely expands upon the mythology of the movies. The interesting take on the story is enough to warrant a read for the hardcore fans and yet it is still entirely accessible to those who have not seen the films. Fans of comics like "Hellblazer" should give this a whirl.
The Creeping Craig