Advance Review – Vampironica #1 (Archie Comics)

Publisher: Archie Comics
Writer(s): Greg Smallwood, Meg Smallwood
Artwork: Greg Smallwood
Release Date: 14th March 2018

Vampironica is the latest addition to the always-impressive “Archie Horror” imprint, and – as you might expect from the title – features fan-favourite Veronica Lodge being turned into an ass-kicking vampire. And, while it definitely doesn’t have the same edge as, say, Afterlife With Archie or Jughead: The Hunger, there’s still a lot to like about this intriguing new horror mash-up.

The story comes from siblings Meg and Greg Smallwood, the latter of whom also provides the artwork, and gives us a quick glimpse of the bad-ass Vampironica dispatching some vampires with her trademark sass, followed by an extended flashback of how she ended up in this situation. It’s a quick, enjoyable read, light on dialogue, and the horror and gore is kept to a bare minimum during this fast-moving “origin story”.

It’s a solid approach, although there aren’t any real hints about the story to come, which leaves the whole thing feeling a more than little hollow at times. We get to see Ronnie’s first foray into vampiredom play out in a fairly dynamic fashion, and there are hints to struggles with her bloodlust that could definitely provide some interesting storyline threads in the issues to come if handled correctly, but there’s no overarching mystery or menace (aside from there being Vampires in Riverdale in the first place) to make the reader want to pick up issue two.

That said, spite of the slightness of the story, the artwork here is genuinely top notch, with a slightly more edgy approach than the usual Archie fare and some strikingly dark colour work from Greg. Everything is bathed in dark reds, blues and purples, instantly setting this book apart from the main Archie Comics continuity, and Greg also does a great job with the more dynamic and physical beats of his story.

Unfortunately though, while it’s undoubtedly a great looking book, the story still doesn’t really provide much more than a fleeting teaser, and in the ultra-competitive comic book marketplace, I’m not sure that’s enough to make a new reader want to come back for more.

At the end of the day, as a first issue it establishes the premise of the series well, but I’m definitely worried that Vampironica might not have enough here for the reader to sink their teeth into. Things could definitely pick up in the issues to come, but this does feels like it has the potential to be a bit of a missed opportunity for what is an undeniably cracking premise.

Rating: 3/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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