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The Man with the Screaming Brain

Michael Arner

It all comes down to how much of a Bruce Campbell fan you are.

The Man With the Screaming Brain

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Contributors: Rick Remender (Artist)
Price: $2.99 each
Writer: Bruce Campbell and David Goodman
Item Type: Comic
Length: 32 each
End Date: 2005-07
Start Date: 2011-04

The film The Man With The Screaming Brain is actor Bruce Campbell's directorial debut. Campbell says that this comic book version, based on the motion picture screenplay, is a more detailed vision of the original script without the hindrances of budget, time and technical deficiencies. It also smartly tweaks the conceit of superiority that many Americans have when they visit a foreign country.

The story is about William Cole, a bombastic and arrogant C.E.O. and caricature of Americans and obsessive, consuming American businessmen. Cole, upon visiting the apparently Eastern Europen city of Bravoda, expects to have people waiting at his feet for his every request and expects them to speak his native language at the same time. Jackie Cole, his wife, seems to be the suffering spouse, probably only in the marriage for the financial security that it offers her.

Trouble finds the Coles quite quickly in their obnoxious English-speaking cab driver, Yegor. Through him, the Coles become involved in infidelity and it's only a matter of time before we meet our title character, played by Bruce Campbell. Campbell is best known as Ash, the hero of Sam Raimi's campy Evil Dead trilogy. Campbell has also appeared in numerous low-budget films that regularly appear on the Sci-Fi Channel and you may remember him from the short-lived series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Jack of All Trades. Sam Raimi has gone on to do bigger and better things, including, of course, the Spider-Manfilms, but he's helped out his old friend and has given Campbell some on-screen time in those films.

Campbell capitalizes on his fame and his low-budget roots with The Man With The Screaming Brain. He writes, acts and directs this B-movie, and its comic counterpart, with all the style you would expect from a film with this title. If you aren't familiar with Campbell's work, this is likely neither a comic book series nor a film that you would be interested in. It is a modest comedy with tongue-in-cheek sci-fi oddness in its reanimated heart, complete with a mad scientist, a goofy assistant and a treacherous vixen. It also says a little about being respectful when visiting a county that is not your own.

I'm not spoiling anything by saying that Campbell plays the role of the "Man With The Screaming Brain", since you see that by almost all of the covers of this mini series (Dark Horse created two covers per issue, one of which is being used for the newly released DVD version of the film). If you enjoy Campbell's slapstick thespian work, Man does not disappoint, as there are numerous scenes of smacks, bonks and pokes. But, this is where the problem occurs. Sure, the artwork for this mini series features an exaggerated Campbell likeness, but it's not "the man". The slapstick humor doesn't translate on the static page and the smarmy delivery of his dialogue just doesn't come through in the written word.

Focusing on the comic book version, aside from the film, is quite impossible. The mini-series works best as an accompaniment to the film. The comic book expands on some ideas that don't quite work in the film (such as the female robot), and in the case of Campbell, the film allows some of the humor and personality that doesn't translate into the printed page to shine. So, I think it all comes down to how much of a Bruce Campbell fan you are. If you are like me, you already bought the series. If you just know about the film, you may want to buy the comics and see what Campbell intended when he created this fun story. All in all, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it certainly doesn't take our hero, Bruce Campbell, too far out of his strange niche that he's created from dismembered body parts and pratfalls.

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