For decades, fans have associated Archie Comics with a more innocent time gone by, with the biggest conflict our characters would run into is which cute girl to date or how to get more hamburgers when one runs out of hamburgers. In some ways, things are the exact same around Riverdale, but as evidenced by the popularity of the Archie Horror titles, audiences have seen classic movie monsters invade their small town, offering readers more macabre tales. Starting off an all-new series with a bang, Vampironica #1 combines a traditional horror premise with one of Riverdale's most charming residents in what is sure to appease fans with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-shaped hole in their hearts.
Riverdale's biggest flirt, Cheryl Blossom, offers up some body shots at a party, which catches the attention of every boy with a pulse, and even some without them. As a ghoul makes their way to accept her offer, Veronica springs into action to eradicate the threat, emerging victorious as party-goers discover her glowing red eyes, confirming that she, too, has caught an otherworldly affliction.
The story flashes back to three days earlier when Veronica had hoped to entice star football player Archie on a date, with Betty alerting her that she already had plans with Archie. Typical, right? Veronica accepts a date with one of Archie's understudies, but before it can commence, Veronica discovers her parents have been killed before getting bitten by a vampire, kicking off our journey.
Dating back to the '40s, Archie's roots in comic books runs deeper than many others, with the characters being regarded as more wholesome than cherry pie. As evidenced by the interest in the Archie Horror series and the surprise success of The CW's Riverdale, however, fans can't get enough of seeing a more twisted take on these characters which remains faithful to their identities while also shining them with a new light, or rather, plunging them into darkness.
Readers don't have to get more than a few pages into this first issue to know that series writers Greg and Meg Smallwood are putting the recognizable characters and their personalities at the forefront of the story, as opposed to something like Marvel Zombies where the concept dominated the story arc. Were you to have skipped the issue's first few pages, you would have thought you were reading a pretty standard Archie comic, from the playful love triangle to the small-town dreams of finding a date after cheerleading practice.
Adding another layer of charm to Vampironica is Greg's art, which remains faithful to the iconic characters' looks while also offering exciting compositions. One series of panels depicting a number of text message exchanges dares the reader to get sucked into the comic, making for an overall dynamic experience. Additionally, his art has no problem giving readers the horror they came for, whether it be Veronica emerging from a literal pool of blood or zooming in to see a victim's bodily fluids dripping from a fiend's razor-sharp fangs.
The charm of the classic comic book characters is matched by the charm of the monsters that are descending on Riverdale, as evidenced by Afterlife with Archie's zombies, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's witchcraft, and Jughead: The Hunger's werewolves. There's a reason all of these icons have remained so relevant after all these years, with Vampironica appealing to Archie and horror fans alike. Much of the story feels like an homage to classic drive-in horror movies or classic EC Horror comics, wearing its influences lovingly on its sleeves.
With readers knowing early in this issue where this Veronica's journey will take her and how she will eventually turn on her brethren to vanquish the atrocities, the joy of the book will be seeing how she resists her bloodlust to become a certified badass in a quest we can't wait to witness unfold. Whether you like Archie Comics or the horror genre, or just enjoy a charming story, Vampironica is going to be a title to watch.
Published by Archie Comics
On March 14, 2018
Written by Greg and Meg Smallwood
Art by Greg Smallwood