Relishing Genre in Vampironica 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Vampironica 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a teenage girl battles (slays, if you will) vampires in her suburban hometown. The connections between Vampironica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are myriad (honestly, if you asked me which takes place in “Sunnydale” and which in “Riverdale,” I’d get it wrong 50% of the time), but clearly intentional. Indeed, writers Meg and Greg Smallwood revel in the Buffy-ness of their opening, introducing Veronica Lodge as a vampire-slaying badass, bringing her own stakes to rescue some typically teen partygoers from some marauding ghouls. But there’s a twist (albeit one that features prominently on the cover and gives this series its name): Veronica is a vampire. Continue reading

Archie 27: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan M: You can’t always get what you want. It’s a tough lesson, and one my parents tried to impart by singing Rolling Stones off-key to my brother and I throughout childhood. In relationships, defining and declaring wants is only the first step — you need agreement. Archie 27 picks up right where the last issue left off, with Betty and Archie being asked to make a romantic choice by Dilton and Veronica, respectively. Dilton and Veronica have defined their wants, but the power lies with Betty and Archie. Continue reading

Earned Ultimatums in Archie 26

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ultimatums are a hallmark of melodrama. They immediately raise the stakes, making the next move carry the weight of future. Usually this is an unfair burden. Since the time that I realized that the relationships on Beverly Hills 90210 weren’t healthy, ultimatums in romance get a healthy dose of side-eye from me. When a person says “do this or we’re done” it’s usually a cop-out or a cheap way to turn a pot-hole into a roadblock. Ultimatums are the cliffhanger of choice in romance, perching a relationship’s entire future on the next moment. Given my skepticism, it’s impressive how much empathy Mark Waid and Audrey Mok are able to elicit from me for Dilton and Veronica at the end of Archie #26. Continue reading

Stumbling at the Finish Line in Archie 25

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

While I loved Sweet Valley High books as a tween, I never put them down satisfied. The reason being that, no matter how juicy the main plot of the book was, how conniving twin Jessica got her comeuppance or “good” twin found herself back in the arms of her longtime boyfriend Todd, the last two pages would introduce a plot that was totally unrelated to provide a transition to the next book. The ending of the A and B plots of Archie 25 aren’t quite that egregious, but Mark Waid and Audrey ask the reader to switch gears from much more compelling stories. Continue reading

Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica 1 Only Works When It’s Simple

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Crossover comics almost always have a problem of feeling overstuffed. There are two complete casts of characters and two different worlds, all of which need to be honored in one way or another. Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica 1 packs in a ton of individual character personalities, but ultimately fails to juggle them all at once. By the time we get to the climactic costume party, we’re tracking Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Sabrina, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, to say nothing of Hiram and Smithers, who we can assume are all on-site somewhere. Artist Laura Braga does some incredible design work in this issue (so many costumes!), but continuity of space totally falls apart with so many players in a scene. This issue is at its best at its simplest, but it so seldom sticks to simplicity. Continue reading

Archie 23: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: One of the few consistencies throughout all iterations of Archie is that Archie Andrews, as a character, catches a lot of flak, not just from his friends, but from readers and viewers especially. Whether it’s his inability to choose between Betty and Veronica in classic stories or his almost complete cluelessnes/uselessness in Riverdale, there’s a lot to rag on the poor kid about. Why does he continue to endure and work as a lead character, then? Mark Waid and Audrey Mok pinpoint the reason in Archie 23: whatever his faults, Archie loves his friends with all his heart. Continue reading

Memories in the Moment in Archie 22

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Most of Archie 22 takes place in a moment after Betty’s heart stops beating and before the doctors can get it going again. During that second, writer Mark Waid and artist Pete Woods explore what Betty means to several of the people in her life in short memories. Each story is tinged with the pain of the potential loss. Each relationship depicted has its own meaning. The order of stories offers increasingly complex relationships. Waid and Woods show what Betty’s situation triggers for her mother, her friend, her principal, and her ex-boyfriend/best friend/boy next door. Continue reading

Crisis Reveals Character in Jughead 16

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When things are at their most dire, it can be surprising who will step up. Crisis allows people to drop their posturing and bluster and actively work on a shared goal. In Jughead 16, Ian Flynn, Mark Waid and Derek Charm show a new side of Reggie Mantle by putting Jughead in crisis. Continue reading

Splitting the World into Pre and Post Tragedy in Archie 21

by Ryan Mogge

Archie 21

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When something awful happens, priorities immediately change. Trivial pursuits are rendered meaningless when real loss is pending. Memories can be categorized as “before” and “after.” In Archie 21, Mark Waid and Pete Woods build toward one such loss by showing several characters in their “before” mode. Continue reading

Jughead 15

Today, Ryan M. and Patrick are discussing Jughead 15, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: If fiction is to be believed, magic is dangerous. If a character starts dabbling in magic, it is not long before a wise elder tells them to be careful, that there are consequences. Sure, a parlor trick is fun, but the power inherent in breaking natural laws can easily get out of control. Magic can consume your soul, inspire a sense of megalomania and, sometimes, make you a sidekick in your own comic series. When Sabrina casts a spell in Jughead 15, our title character is lost in the shuffle even as he inspires and amphitheater of admirers.

Continue reading