The bodies are piling up in Riverdale and it appears that one of Vampirella’s ancient enemies may be behind it all!
So, I was kind of lukewarm on the first issue of this miniseries, but I love all of the characters and talent involved, so I really wanted to give this another shot. Did this issue win me over any more than the previous issue? Well, yes and no.
I certainly enjoyed this chapter more than the first one, but the thing that feels like it’s holding this miniseries back stems from it not feeling like it fully delivers on its titles. Okay, yes, the characters all meet and work together to some extent. The problem is that it doesn’t feel like the series is really mining the setting for all that its worth. While I appreciate the acknowledgement that Riverdale is a place where kooky things generally happen, none of the Riverdale characters really feel like themselves.
This Betty and Veronica (especially Veronica) feel pretty interchangeable with any other mortal characters we’ve seen side with Vampirella in previous adventures. There’s not much of a sense of fun to the story, aside from Red Sonja and Vampirella’s fish-out-of-water attitudes toward the small town of Riverdale. For the most part, however, the silliness inherent in the premise never properly shines through.
It feels like this could have been any normal Sonja/Vampirella team-up, but Betty and Veronica are included due to some kind of mandate. I could be way off here, but it really feels like the Riverdale setting is entirely secondary to the story at hand, at least so far. As an admitted Archie fan, it’s kind of disappointing.
Still, the stuff that works is worth talking about. As I mentioned previously, it’s really fun to read Sonja and Vampirella trying to blend in with the student body at Riverdale. Sonja is crushing it on the football field and the genuine camaraderie that the two time-traveling heroines have with Betty and Veronica is refreshing, especially when so many crossovers have an obligatory argument or some other dust-up before our heroes see eye to eye. Everyone agrees that something bad is happening and they have to work together, which is the most genuinely Archie Comics-esque thing about this story so far.
The artwork by Maria Sanapo helps bring a dose of realism to the cartoonishly diabolical villains faced by our heroes. This is especially evident in the recap of Red Sonja and Vampirella’s past with one another, which features a couple other cameos from previous adventures that fans should appreciate. That whole sequence felt right, as well. It helps that it’s told with the kind of reverent, literary prose that made Amy Chu’s Red Sonja ongoing such a joy to read.
The final page sets up a potentially very fun story thread that has me interested in seeing where the book goes next. All in all, it’s a fun story that feels like it has a bit of an identity crisis.