As Veronica and Dilton are preparing to face down the vampire responsible for the murder of her parents and ruining her social life, the rest of Riverdale is preparing for the biggest party event of the year! The two couldn’t be related, could they? Let’s find out in Vampironica #3 from Archie Comics!
Writer: Greg Smallwood & Meg Smallwood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Covers: Greg Smallwood, Francesco Francavilla, Audrey Mok
Publisher: Archie Comics
Release Date: September 5, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Vamperonica: After a mysterious man killed her parents and turned her life upside down, Veronica Lodge found herself turned into a vampire. But thanks to her mysterious nature as a strigoi (look it up) she manages to keep her personality and free will. Teaming up with Dilton Doiley, teen school genius, they figure out a plan to avenge her parents and hopefully return Veronica to her pre-vampiric state.
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT…
Cheryl Blossom is planning the biggest party of the year, and everyone is invited! Unfortunately, while most of the teens in Riverdale and the surrounding area are getting ready for a night dancing and merriment, Veronica and her erstwhile partner in slaying, Dilton, are returning from a rather unique shopping trip. No, clothes, make-up and accessories were not on their list, more like crossbows, stakes, and holy water. You see, they believe if they kill the originator of the vampire bite that turned Veronica and the others in Riverdale, they may be able to be restored to their original non-vampy states. So with stealth and guile born from years of sneaking out of the house to meet her beloved Archie, Veronica returns to the Lodge estate, intent on finding and destroying the lead vampire. Dilton, serving as guard and watch out as Veronica infiltrates her once and future home, monitors her progress. It is all for naught though as Archie arrives, flowers in hand and a song on his lips, to woo his darling Veronica. Before Dilton can warn him, he is greeted at the door by a red-eyed and fanged Hiram Lodge, looking ever the dapper and congenial vampire of leisure. Soon Veronica will have to confront her parents as well as the vampire known as Ivan, but what to do about Archie? And how does the mysterious “Order of the Dragon” fit into all of this?
A BLAST OF A BEGINNING!
The Archie Horror line has tackled zombies, werewolves, witches, and now vampires. When I first heard that these were subjects that Archie Comics was going to be publishing these sort of books, I was admittedly skeptical. My mind went to the classic Archie Halloween stories with the gang running around in store-bought costumes and gathering around the punch bowl while Hot Dog absconds with the goodie bags. However, I have been proven pleasantly wrong by Archie multiple times in the past, and this title is no exception.
The sibling creative team of Meg Smallwood and Greg Smallwood (Moon Knight, Dream Thief) have taken the vampire mythology and applied it to Riverdale’s most pampered debutant, with wonderful effect. The pair have applied classic elements of the vampire lore, such as strigoi and moroi, and even the ancillary connection to classic organizations such as the Order of the Dragon and ancient monarchs, to give a solid foundation to their interpretation of the ways of the vampire. It would have been so easy to simply place Veronica in the role of a savior and have her be the only one capable of fighting the vampire scourge (sound familiar?). Instead, they place Veronica as a victim in the overall arc, which changes her dynamic from that of savior to survivor and ultimately avenger. Much as the zombies of Afterlife with Archie could be interpreted as a nod to the secrets and the public facades which people hide behind, Vampironica could be interpreted with a deeper message. When Veronica is turned, she doesn’t hide from what happened and turn on her friends, she embraces it and uses that experience to fuel her future interactions with the world around her. It all is a way of working out her demons, literally and figuratively. The bite of the vampire transforms Veronica into a hero which is trying to take the reins of her own fate, refusing to let the tragedy define her.
It could also be said that Meg and Greg just write a really fun story.
Greg Smallwood also handles the art for the series, and contributes the standard cover. His art style works extremely well with the story. He manages to craft the hometown American feel which Archie is known for, and blend it with the darker shadows of the story. The characters retain their vintage and iconic looks, but it is modern. From Jughead’s classic hat to gridlike pattern on the side of Archie’s head, these characters retain their style, but look realistic and lifelike enough to lend credence to the threat which is the crux of the story. The vintage feel is brought to the fore by Smallwood’s exclusion of black border lines around the panels. This simple decision gives the stylized look of the old horror anthology magazines and makes for a unique presentation.
BOTTOM LINE: AN ENTERTAINING START TO A NEW STORYLINE
I am quickly becoming a fan of the new direction which Archie Comics is taking. While I will always love the humor titles, ventures into different genres such as this shows these character as what they truly are, timeless characters who can easily adapt into whatever role a quality creative team can forge for them. Meg and Greg Smallwood have a tight story-telling style. There is little waste, you know what you need to know and are given hints of just enough possibility to tantalize you to come back for another bite.
Vampironica #3 is a solid, entertaining story that has just enough thrills to keep your attention. Veronica is still trying to cling to her old rich girl persona, but she’s growing into the new role rather well.