17 June 2011

"Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama"

Trade paperback.
Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama
Elliot Serrano - Writer
Ariel Padilla - Art
Rael Sidharta - Colors
Bill Tortolini - Letters
Todd Nauck - Cover A (75%)
Lucio Parrillo - Cover B (25%)
Originally published: September - November 2009
Cover Price: $3.50/issue

So The Great Escape held one of its sidewalk sales last week, offering 30% off all comics.  I went in with a wish list and couldn't find most of it, but I did come across all four issues of this novelty mini-series and I just had to have them.  The concept alone beckoned to me, which of course was the whole point.
Issue #1 Cover A: Todd Nauck, Cover B: Lucio Parrillo
The premise is simple enough.  President Barack Obama makes a scheduled appearance at the annual Motor City Comic Convention during a visit to Detroit.  Unbeknownst to him, the Army of Darkness has surreptitiously begun distributing comic book versions of the Necronomicon just as capable of spreading destruction as the actual book.  Naturally, Ash Williams is on hand for the chaos--albeit reluctantly.  His S-Mart coworker has called out, forcing him to be the one delivering food to the convention.  And, of course, one of the comic book Necronomicons falls into the hands of the president.  Ash has to survive the Evil Dead and track down and destroy all the comics, and save President Obama.  All in a day's work, really, when you're the chosen one.
Issue #2 Cover A: Todd Nauck, Cover B: Lucio Parrillo
Basing Ash Saves Obama at a comic book convention was a stroke of genius, as it really does represent the most sensible convergence of the realm of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness with reality.  President Obama is known for being a comic book fan and collector, even referred to here as the "Fanboy in Chief."  It's impossible to imagine a sitting president visiting a comic book convention--security would be impossible with all the cosplayers and prop weapons being sold--but it's not actually that much of a stretch to imagine this president in that environment.
Issue #3 Cover A: Todd Nauck, Cover B: Lucio Parrillo
Writer Elliot Serrano brings a terrific sense of humor to the story, very much aware of how ridiculous the whole thing is and even satirizing within the story absurdity of Obama's popularity in pop culture.  We see an array of Obama-centric comics and toys on display at the convention, some of which actually do exist (there's no shortage of Obama Bobbleheads).  Yet, Serrano stops short of satirizing the president himself in his lampooning of pop culture's reaction to him.  Instead, Obama here is a polite family man who assigns an underling to make sure the comics he's been given are age appropriate for his daughters.  He's not particularly dynamic at any point.  The Fox News crowd will decry Ash Saves Obama as liberal brainwashing propaganda, but I suspect most reasonable readers--even those who don't think favorably of Mr. Obama--will see it more as a silly Evil Dead/Army of Darkness novelty story, which is really all it aspires to be.
Issue #4 Cover A: Todd Nauck, Cover B: Lucio Parrillo
Ariel Padilla's art is perfectly suited for the tone of this little romp.  The atmosphere of the comic convention is pitch perfect and the action panels are dynamic.  What I appreciate most is that his art is clean and not overwhelmingly full of details--a common complaint I have with many contemporary comics.  The likeness of Bruce Campbell is more suggestive than perfect, but he's certainly recognizable.  Padilla's Obama is pretty much spot-on, though I think he gave the president a more pronounced jawline than he really has.  The covers are nice; I actually prefer Todd Nauck's work to that of Lucio Parrillo.  I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that these covers are pretty misleading.  Come to think of it, so is the title!

There is a collected edition, available to those who can't find or aren't interested in finding the original four issues.

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