Writer: Greg & Meg Smallwood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Letter: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Review by Frank Lanza
I have made no efforts to hide my love for Archie’s horror titles. Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Tales of Sabrina, Jughead: The Hunger… all have been excellent titles and really just a ton of fun for any fan of spooky comics. Appropriately, I had high hopes that the Smallwoods would continue the trend of excellence with Vampironica #1. Well, my fellow ghouls, let’s see if Ms. Lodge can deliver the same scares as her other horror brethren, shall we?
Following on the heels of Jughead: The Hunger, Vampironica #1 serves as the origin story of how Veronica Lodge got her thirst for blood. The book begins with a couple of vampires crashing Cheryl Blossom’s pool party. Veronica arrives just in time to kick their undead butts and reveals her new supernatural powers to all in attendance. We then segue to a prototypical Betty vs Veronica for the hand of Archie, with Veronica drawing the short straw this time around and Betty walking off victorious, scoring a date with Archie. Veronica, never one to be upstaged, grabs the next closest suitor in Reggie and suckers him into taking her out that night instead. While waiting for Reggie to pick her up for their date, Veronica heads downstairs to her father’s study to find both her parents have been attacked, murdered with puncture wounds in both their necks. As she rushes in to their aid, she is grabbed by the vampire responsible for the crime. She manages to escape but while driving away she collides with Reggie as he is on the way to pick her up for their date. Veronica is ejected from the car in a wreck that should have killed her… but we discover that she was bitten by the vampire and has returned as one of the undead herself. Thus, Vampironica is born!
I had a lot of fun reading this issue. In true Archie Horror form, it is neither a complicated read nor is it overly simplistic or juvenile. The Smallwoods have teamed up to create yet another wonderful entry in this line of books that honestly should never have existed but amazingly they do. They have paced this book perfectly, Vampironica #1 can probably be breezed through in about 10 minutes, but not because it is lacking in content. It has such a perfectly fast action movie pace that you just keep racing from panel to panel. It’s like reading an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, dialog keeps flying as fast as the blood and guts. I immediately went back and read it a second time just because it was such an enjoyable ride all the way through.
Greg appears to have handled all of the art chores on this book by himself, and boy does he handle it like a Formula 1 race car. The entire book is done in a beautiful colors over pencils style and it just looks fantastic. It gives it a sketchy always in motion appearance while the colors fit right in with the bold and highly contrasting Archie Horror style we’ve come to know and love. I’d love to see the original pencils for this book, I imagine they are gorgeous.
Buy it! If you aren’t reading any of the Archie Horror titles, you are missing out on some highly entertaining stuff. If you’d like to see what all the hubbub is about, Vampironica #1 is a perfect jumping on point for any reader. You don’t need any backstory or experience with any of the other titles to fully enjoy this book, it’s a fully contained story all on its own. It’s fun, fast and a little campy, the perfect combination for some Archie style horror.