"Vampironica #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archie Comics
Written by Greg Smallwood & Meg Smallwood
Illustrated by Greg Smallwood
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 14th, 2018
Veronica Lodge has a near perfect life. She lives in the lap of luxury with her wealthy family. She's on the cheerleading squad. Now if she could just get that Archie Andrews, everything would be just right. All of this is thrown up in the air when she's attacked by a vampire one night, turning her into a bloodsucker too. Riverdale is not prepared for Vampironica.
Greg Smallwood's artwork on Vampironica is gorgeous. It strikes just the right balance between nostalgia and classic horror. His style is a perfect fit for a title like this, bringing terrifying vampires to characters we've known and loved for decades.
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The opening pages take place after Veronica has been turned, at a party at the Pembrooke Estates, home of the Blossoms. Vampires come in to crash the party and Veronica fights them off in total badass fashion. Smallwood's colors give this scene (and subsequent pages) a classic flare, like you might see them on a spooky TV show from 40 years ago. The reds really pop, particularly in a sequence where Veronica and a vampire fall into the pool. A circle of blood forms and grows as Veronica slowly rises out of its center.
This contrasts nicely with the follow-up scene from the pre-vampire days. Veronica is full of life and energy, cheering her heart out and pining for Archie. She's forced to settle for Reggie for the evening and that's just the beginning of her nightmare. The appearance of the vampire is startling. This creature looks ancient, powerful, and pure evil. It's “vamp mode” is reminiscent of those seen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that's where the similarities end.
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What follows is an absolutely brutal sequence as Veronica runs for her life, pursued by this old vampire. There were several panels where I cringed and had to look away for a moment, not for the gore on display, but for the implied impact of the violence. Smallwood does a great job in showing just enough to creep you out and letting your mind fill in the blanks.
Writers Greg and Meg Smallwood have quickly established Vampironica as a unique, terrifying vampire tale. Archie Comics has another horror hit on their hands here. It is tonally and visually different than the other titles under the Archie Horror umbrella, yet with the same level of quality. Now, how long do we have to wait until Vampironica meets Werewolf Jughead?