To the excitement of fans everywhere, long before he even returned in the exceptional “Ash vs. Evil Dead” TV series, Ash Williams found a second life in comic books. His comic history began with the Army of Darkness adaptation by Dark Horse, painted by John Bolton and overseen by Sam Raimi. But it really took off in 2005, when Dynamite obtained the Army of Darkness license and published their first sequel miniseries, Ashes 2 Ashes, about Ash accidentally transporting himself back to the day before he went to the cabin and then trying to stop himself from ever reading the book.
Since then, there have been several more miniseries as well as a few ongoing titles and, well, a whole lot of crossovers. In the 10+ years since Ash firmly planted his feet in comics, he’s teamed up with—or more often, butted heads with—just about everyone. From some of the most classic heroes in comics to some of the biggest horror movie icons, to other Sam Raimi creations and even other characters Bruce Campbell has played.
Narrowing down the most memorable crossovers can be difficult, of course. But the best of them tend to be the ones that actually challenge and sometimes even question Ash as a character. They’re not just about fighting someone he’s never fought before. One of the most appealing things about Ash is that you can put him in just about any situation.
He’s always going to be Ash. He’s always going to think he’s the toughest, even the smartest guy in the room, he’s always going to have that ego trip that will leave every character around him rolling their eyes. He’s always going to sarcastically comment on what he sees. These crossovers, if anything, prove what a successful character he is by showing how well he can be placed into virtually any scenario.
Having said that, most of the following crossovers are absolutely big, dumb fun. And a few of them are genuinely exciting, innovative takes on both the character and the mythology… that also happen to be big, dumb fun.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness
OK, so Ash finds himself in the Marvel Universe, which is a great concept in and of itself. But it’s not the main Marvel Universe, as it turns out, it’s the Marvel Zombies Universe. Created by Mark Millar in the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four, this is a world ravaged by a zombie plague that affected its superheroes, causing them to cannibalize one another. This is obviously a Marvel timeline that’s much more Ash’s speed and so he attempts to help the survivors with the aid of the classic chainsaw/boomstick combo.
This miniseries features several insane, delightful moments like Ash fighting an undead Howard the Duck, unsuccessfully hitting on Dazzler, using the Necronomicon to purposefully raise an army of Deadites to combat the unending hordes of hungry dead heroes, and Dr. Doom opening the doors of his castle as a safe haven to survivors, only for Ash to realize that this safe haven excludes the sick or the elderly.
Darkman vs. Army of Darkness
The idea of putting Darkman and Ash together is all kinds of genius. First and foremost, they’re obviously two Sam Raimi creations—both of them the heroes of cinematic trilogies, even—but they’re also polar opposite characters. Darkman is obviously dark. He was affected by his trauma in a serious way, defined by it, whereas Ash has spent his entire life avoiding his trauma.
The crossover also sees Peyton Westlake’s long-lost love Julie (who he’s been spying on since the event of Darkman III) being turned into a Deadite, referred to by other Deadites as “The Queen of Darkness.” As death isn’t quite as permanent in the Evil Dead universe, the comic takes advantage of this to bring back Darkman franchise villain, Durant.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors
The second Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash crossover miniseries deserves a mention of its own because of how genuinely insane it is. Whereas the first comic was a sincere combination of the three characters, based off of the actual treatment for the film had it been able to move forward, Nightmare Warriors is entirely its own beast. The story not only unites Ash with nearly every survivor of the Friday the 13thand Nightmare on Elm Street series, but involves Freddy becoming a cosmic entity with unlimited power and Jason returning to human form with luxurious hair as a reward for leading a Deadite invasion on Washington, DC.
Baby Jacob from Dream Child and Baby Stephanie from Jason Goes to Hell (both now teenagers) hook up, and Freddy’s Dead protagonist Maggie, as well as Stephanie, wind up joining their respective family businesses and going evil to the point of basically being sexy female versions of Freddy and Jason. It’s not better than the first miniseries by any stretch, but it’s so ungodly bizarre that it absolutely warrants a look.
Army of Darkness: Ash vs. The Classic Monsters
Imagine The Monster Squad with one manchild instead of a group of children. That’s the beauty of Ash vs. The Classic Monsters. As a fan of all of these characters, especially one who considers the modern icons as a part of a longer legacy dating back to the Universal days, it’s great to see Ash interact with these old-school monsters.
Much like The Monster Squad, Dracula serves as the primarily villain for this storyline. Werewolves, mummies, vampires and Frankenstein’s Monster all turn in appearances as well. On top of that, Evil Ash makes a return appearance, teaming up with Dracula and the others to try and take Ash down. It weaves Evil Dead into so many other landscape horror mythologies in a neat way.
Army of Darkness/Xena: Warrior Princess: Why Not?
This crossover manages to top Darkman vs. Army of Darkness by not only having two Sam Raimi helmed properties collide, but throwing two Bruce Campbell characters into the mix as well. Campbell, of course, played Autoclys on the show and you better believe the four-issue comic series has a field day with that. The plot, however, is the real kicker here as it might be the strangest set-up of any of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness crossovers.
The Wise Man from Army of Darkness flings himself into the present to warn Ash that one of the Mini-Ashes from the windmill sequence of that film got ahold of the Necronomicon and transported himself into the distant past of Xena where he has used Ash’s crafty modern engineering skills for evil, creating all kinds of ridiculous weapons. The crossover was so successful that it spawned two sequels, the most recent of which was released in 2016.
Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator
Evil Dead and Re-Animator are perfectly matched for a crossover. They’re both cult classic franchises of similar stature. They’re also both extremely similar franchises as well, both in terms of tone and style as well as the tongue-in-cheek, often outrageous amounts of gore. Seeing Combs’ interpretation of Herbert West, as well as Ash as we know him and love him interacting is awesome. They’re two completely different characters in just about every way.
The neat thing that this crossover does, though, is that it uses West and Re-Animator to introduce the larger H.P. Lovecraft mythology as well. It’s a nice nod, because the name of the Necronomicon hails from Lovecraft’s stories, so West seeking the book to unlock bigger mysteries of life and death is perfectly fitting. It’s super cheesy, but in a way that feels completely appropriate and delightful.
Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash
Hack/Slash is a wonderful comic so deep-rooted in ‘80s horror lore that it has crossed over with the likes of Child’s Play, Vampirella, Re-Animator and Hatchet. But when it comes to Ash, Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad are butting heads with another likeminded hero. The fact that Cassie is young and attractive and Ash is Ash makes for a great personality clash, because she is exactly the kind of person who would not put up with any of his obnoxious flirtation or advances.
But even despite that, they’re incredibly similar characters. Both of them have alienated themselves from their trauma, put up an isolationist wall, even though they deal with their lack of dealing with their problems in very separate ways. The crossover is great because it’s fun and really well-paced, but it also genuinely reveals things about both characters by pitting them against one another. Definitely one of the best.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash
This is the big one. Easily the most famous Evil Dead crossover, it has the added bonus of at least at one point being considered as a feature film. Obviously it didn’t pan out, but we’ve still got the crossover based on Jeff Katz’ treatment for what the film could have been. It’s Freddy, Jason and Ash as we know them and love them. It’s a direct sequel to Freddy vs. Jason. It deals, like “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” with Ash being older than the last time we saw him.
On top of that, though, it also gives fans the snowy Friday the 13ththey’ve always wanted to see, as the comic is set at Crystal Lake in the dead of winter. In fact, it’s set around the Christmas season, which makes for a few great gags and even gives the whole thing a bigger “event” kind of feel. There’s also a great climactic showdown between the three title characters on the icy lake.