First thing’s first: while this issue is definitely fun, it doesn’t actually do what it says in the title. Granted, many crossovers spend an issue or two building up to the promised slugfests, but this one takes a very different approach. In fact, The Hunger‘s version of Jughead doesn’t even make an appearance in this issue, which ends up reading more like Vampironica #6, rather than the first part of a crossover.
With that out of the way, and as a fan of Vampironica to start with, this was a solid continuation of that series. It gives a handy recap of the first five-issue Vampironica miniseries through dialogue, which is fun and snappy enough to not feel completely like exposition. The only problem is that this information is restated multiple times, so it just feels like Ronnie’s accomplishments from the miniseries are being hammered into our heads, only for the issue’s twist to undo a lot of them.
For those who haven’t read Vampironica, however, this is still a pretty solid introduction, especially since so many of the classic Archie cast remains true to their traditional characterizations. The jokes are cute and if it weren’t for all the talk of vampires, it’d be easy to mistake the first half of this for a normal Archie comic.
While it doesn’t quite get to the crossover in this first issue, that doesn’t prevent it from being a solid refresher on Vampironica, even for folks who haven’t read the previous miniseries. The action is fun and the whole issue is somewhat reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s early seasons (conveniently lampshaded by a “Buffy” namedrop early in the issue). The violence is also focused on significantly less than in Afterlife with Archie or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, so readers who are turned off by that level of gore may actually enjoy this more.
This first issue, as mentioned before, flips the script on everything we thought we knew at the end of the first miniseries. While it may at first seem like a bit of cop-out, it works here. I won’t spoil the issue’s final twist, but this change of direction makes total sense and is in-character for the people we see who are responsible for upsetting Veronica so much. This is a plot point that probably works best for readers familiar with the Archie universe, since it just seems right that that person is really a duplicitous villain.
The artwork from the team of Pat & Tim Kennedy and Joe Eisma is fantastic, with the fight scene in the diner being a real highlight. The use of shadow is excellent and the poses of the characters are very effective, rendering the villains as feral and imposing, while selling the lithe gymnastics of Veronica in full-on vampire slayer mode. Matt Herm’s colors are excellent, as well, with occasional one-color backgrounds giving the moodier sections more of a “grindhouse” feel.
This issue kicks this new mini off with a fun, action-packed battle, introducing new mythology to the Vampironica universe. Hopefully the next issue will get readers caught up the werewolf version of Jughead and we can get to the real meat of this crossover.