Saturday, August 6, 2016

Comic Corner Roundup: Right on, Riverdale!

Everyone knows Archie.

Or, at least, everyone has heard of Archie Comics and the nostalgia inducing world of Riverdale. Lifelong fans, such as myself, are positively in heaven right now as publication of several new issues (and series) have been on their way as well as the upcoming CW adaptation Riverdale, which includes some of our favorite kids from the cheery town of Riverdale in a newer, mysterious light. Think Twin Peaks in the Archie verse. How can you not be intrigued by this?

We've got a promise of a new and darker soapy take on the beloved characters in the show as well as the horror friendly issues of Afterlife With Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It's safe to say we are positively spoiled right now with all these excellent releases. If those aren't your cup of tea, then there's a modern spin on the classic aspects of the series in the new Riverdale: Archie, Jughead and Betty and Veronica. That's only me listing a few of their titles, not to mention the goodies from the archive. So, I mean this quite literally, there's something in the Archie catalog for everyone.

A little background information. When I was a little girl, my mother would often make references to characters from print. Mostly, this would be Jughead. I grew up in a home with two parents who grew up with Archie and soon, I felt myself lead down the same path--my character of choice? Sabrina. Sabrina Spellman is, perhaps, one of the most iconic characters in their lineup and having grown up in the 1990s, I think it's safe to say that we all wanted to be Sabrina and have a talking cat. Which is why my first mention will be of the horror infused spin The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.


After the popularity of their other--now beloved-horror release Afterlife With Archie (which is so good!) it was obvious they would like to explore more from the archive, thus The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina came about. As of July 13th 2016, Archie Horror has released six issues of this creeptastic tale of witchcraft and vintage throwbacks. That Damned Cat being the latest issue to be printed. What I like most about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is seeing Sabrina Spellman and her powers through a darker lens. Whereas our original Sabrina comics are light and, well, comedic, this new and twisted edge to the series brings fans to the thick of witchcraft and is just delicious.

Plus. How fucking fantastic is the artwork? It's a perfect mix of a vintage vibe and modern, with just the right amount of gore mixed in. As you may have gone and guessed, the newest issue features Sabrina's familiar Salem as the main focus. I thought it was so fascinating to see an origin story for him and found it disturbing in the best possible way. You've got to give a hand to Archie Horror and their team for creating a world that is familiar and unfamiliar to us. Horror fans will find The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to be a total standout and I promise you will be left wanting more.

Each issue of Sabrina is darker than the last and more than worth every wait and every penny. I'm positively livid with myself for not having bought physical copies of this series because they are an absolute must have. Fortunately for me, a collection of the first six (meaning all that have been released) is currently on the market and I will be purchasing it asap, assuming that the local comic shop has it in stock. 

So, let's talk plots. I, for one, am so bloody nervous to see how things go in the next issue for Sabrina after the endings of both the newest issue and the one before it. There are so many ways this could go and I have a feeling it's going to blow us all away and leave us on our asses. You don't need to have read the original series or anything with Sabrina Spellman in it, due to it being a whole new take, but if you have read a lot of the original issues you're going to see quite a few familiar faces with new appearances and characteristics. I loved seeing how things changed in comparison to the Sabrina from earlier prints and found myself haunted, terrified and intrigued. If you're looking for a good old fashioned scare, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is for you. It certainly cast a spell on me. I am proudly giving the series--its plotlines and artwork--a ★★★★★ rating.

Frankly, just writing my review makes me want to have a reread and--

Oh, and did I mention that Betty and Veronica are witches, too? Because, hell yes, that happened. If you're not even slightly curious at this point, allow me to elaborate. Dark spells and mythology. Flashbacks. All new history involving both Sabrina's parents and the introduction of a delicious villain.

Blood. Danger. I... are you seriously still reading this and not buying yourself a copy? Go. Like, now. Honestly, do I have to do it for you guys? Well, while you're here, let's tackle the other gem of Archie Horror: Afterlife With Archie.

I often wonder how high team members were when they brainstormed for this publication. "Oh. Hey, guys. Do you know what this Riverdale is missing? Zombies, man! Zombies!" I'm totally kidding. I'm actually in the state of mind to somehow high five every single person involved in this terrifying spin on our beloved Riverdale because it's so damned good. While I prefer The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Afterlife With Archie is just as good and definitely one of my favorite comic book series to be resurrected in recent times. Ha-ha, resurrected.

That wasn't funny, Jessica. Shut up. Much like with Sabrina's darker edge, Afterlife paints us a grim picture of Riverdale after a mysterious virus turns our favorite characters lives into a living hell. Zombie Apocalypse, anyone? Hm? I'll drink to that. Afterlife begins with a simple plotline: Jughead's beloved dog is killed in a mysterious hit and run accident, leaving everyone's favorite food lover devastated. Poor, Juggie! Things aren't going well for him, are they? But things go from bad to worse when Juggie calls on Sabrina Spellman for help to resurrect/save his pet. Everything--and I mean, everything--backfires on the two teenagers and soon Riverdale is catapulted into complete chaos.

And on the night of a big dance--gasp! Frankly, I thought the way everything had unfolded in the first issue was so entertaining because it was Riverdale. It was, is, undeniably Riverdale and our characters are tossed into immediate danger on a night that was meant to be supremely normal. Something about it is fun and intriguing all the while being terrifying--after Sabrina casts her spell, a lot of things go wrong that I can't explain without destroying the experience for readers. Basically: she opens a gate to something and instead of resurrecting the dead animal, she inflicts them all with something much worse.

By the end of that first night, it (the, let's call it, virus) spreads and takes out a few of familiar faces. NOOOOOOOOOO! Which, as you guys will have guessed, is heartbreaking to longtime readers. Why do you guys toy with me like this, huh? And why do I enjoy it? Prepare yourselves for a zombie Jughead, the loss of a few characters we know and love, and the heartbreak of all that follows it as Archie and the gang take on life in a whole new world.

Danger is rising in Riverdale and through the course of these novels, we learn who was behind the hit and run, other revelations, how Sabrina is punished for her part and what her destiny now is, a whole lot of death, where they have to go and see a new side to everything. Characters you can expect to see? Pretty much everyone from Riverdale is around and survival is impossible for many. I loved seeing them push through these obstacles and had many pages where I probably jumped out of my skin once or twice or seventy-six times. But who is counting, really.

I'm so nervous and excited for issue #10 which promises more gore, backstory (I'm soooo ready for Josie!) and general goosebumps fun. After a killer issue in #9, I'm beyond excited to see where our favorite Riverdale residents ends up and who will survive. Afterlife is a unique and spooky spin on Archie and is one of the best horror releases in comic book history--boom. Addictive, creepy, well developed and beautiful artwork, it's easy to see why the comic community is buzzing with good energy towards it. Once again, I give a ★★★★★ rating to this new series and am waiting patiently (shakes fist at A.C.) for the next issue.

If you're intrigued by one, you may as well get the other, as they are both the perfect read for this time of the year. Autumn is almost here and Afterlife With Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are the ultimate must-haves for the fall. Halloween reading, anyone? If you're a fan of horrific, creepy tales and twisty turns, these two series are for you. Each one keeps your eyes glued to its pages and are easy to get invested in.

Not a fan of horror? No problem! 


Archie has got you covered. If you are a new reader, their website has a lot to select from its archives but if you are looking to read some of the more modern releases, you're in luck! In tune with more classic releases, the new Riverdale is on fire right now. The gang has been recently and successfully modernized and remodeled for a newer generation to meet Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica and more. And with so many spin-offs and different takes, there are so many places to look to!

Seriously, guys. We are totally spoiled right now. Because of time restrictions in me fangirling over Archie Comics (do I have to be an adult with a job? Ugh.) my thoughts on the new non-horror series is going to be a lot shorter. As I haven't finished Jughead, yet, I'm only going to be tackling two series and the World of Archie Summer Annual.

Let's start with the obvious choice, shall we? Archie! There's just a solid vibe to Archie in the new Riverdale that I think--I hope--it will appeal to all kinds of new and old fans alike. In with the new, without being out with the old--Archie is a light and sweet series from the newest releases. If older readers are nervous about seeing these character modernized without being themselves, they need not be worried: the gang is all here and still just as we love them! Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and other minor characters are present and just as likable as always. I like the backstory for Archie and Betty and a certain incident that changed everything pre-Archie.

There was something that was undeniably sweet in Archie.

Maybe it's the overall tone which was dramatic, funny and sweet. Total teenage behavior and full of humour; including Archie's knack for failing when it comes to jobs. Then again maybe it was just how precious it was seeing how everyone reacted to Betty and Archie's fallout. Especially Jughead. Or the arrival of our beloved Veronica to Riverdale and the waves she makes as a new student and an unfortunate twist that turns her first day at school into hell for her. I enjoyed all the issues that have been printed thus far and really I can't wait to see what happens in the next issue.

This is Archie at its finest and fitting in with the ever-changing world we live in.

Also, let's take a moment to admire how gorgeous the artwork and the colours are in Archie--I kind of am in love.

(I can't wait until my queen Cheryl Blossom makes her return! Anyone else love Cheryl? Fun fact: my best friend and I, lifelong Archie fans that we are, are going out on Halloween as Cheryl and Sabrina--hopefully we'll get our other friends to consent to go as other characters from Riverdale!)

Betty & Veronica just rolled out issue #1 rather recently and it's an enjoyable start to what is sure to be a great series. To be clear, Betty & Veronica is not a direct spin-off of the new Archie series and is, instead, a work on its own. It proves once again that Archie Comics is doing a phenomenal job in fitting in with the changing world and I truly think this will be something that a younger generation will adore. Overall, the first issue has the same vibe that Archie did only a little more interesting to me--maybe it's because the relationship of the two girls is something I've always enjoyed, despite their problems. If I had to pick between this series and Archie, I would probably pick this one even if the number of issues is basically nonexistent compared to the other.

There were so many things about this first installment that I loved and found myself giggling over. I think the best part of it is that, like Archie, it is the comics at their purest: funny, sweet and warm.

Truly, picking up Betty & Veronica made me feel like a kid again and it's a feeling that you can't ignore. I can't, anyways. My favorite part was probably not even the story itself--although I loved that, if I wasn't clear, so don't take this as me not liking it--but this little sliver in between pages that was of Betty and Veronica talking to each other, in their swimsuits and taking a little jab at readers. As far as first issues go, sometimes it takes us a while to get into the series and we have a rocky start, but I loved everything about this one and thought it got the spirit of Riverdale better than all the other modern releases.

(Which are no less wonderful!)

Lastly... I haven't had much luck hunting down my usual pick from The Archie Library. If I'm being honest, my comic book shop isn't the greatest and that's incredibly disappointing. I daresay I wouldn't have found The World of Archie Summer Annual this year if it wasn't for pure fucking luck--I found it in line at the grocery store which almost never has anything in the slot these days but fortunately did that morning. Plus, it was really sweet and nostalgic seeing it at the check out because when I was younger, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch was still on ABC, I used to always talk my mom into buying me a misc issue at the very store I was in.

And by "talk my mom into buying me one", I mean "cry until she bought one just to keep me quiet." But that's neither here nor there. So. Ahem. Anyways. This years summer annual featured one of the cutest covers to date (I'm such a sucker for it, look at my kids!) and was packed with cute stories that even my picky little cousin fell in love with. There's no better way to spend your summer than flipping through some classic Archie strips while you're at work.

Don't tell my boss that, okay? Actually, she knew I was flipping through it one day. I am kind of an obnoxiously obvious person when it comes to my Archie stuff, okay? Anyways, these little comics are a real treat and you'll devour it rather quickly. My personal favorite in this release was: Jughead Convention Crisis, for tickling my funny bone in such a relatable way, with a lot of front runners including ones with Betty & Veronica as well as Reggie. As per usual, the summer annual takes readers back and keeps them smiling from start to finish--perfect for the sunshine.

Well, that's it for this time, guys. Tune in next time when I tackle upcoming new releases from them and proceed to freak out about it. Congrats on making it this far on my very first comic book post. Long story short: Archie is seriously on a roll and you've got to check out as many stories as you can before Riverdale premieres.

Which, by the way, can the C.W. please move up the air date? Please?

Head on over to your local comic shop or purchase some comics through their site or app. I promise you won't regret it.

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