Vampironica: New Blood #1 Delves Into the Depths of a Dark Riverdale!

Writer:  Frank Tieri & Michael Moreci

Art:  Audrey Mok

Colors:  Matt Herms

Lettering:  Jack Morelli

Cover By:  Audrey Mok

Variant Covers By:  Laura Braga, Rebekah Isaacs, Greg Smallwood & Wildredo Torres

Publisher:  Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

Price:  $3.99

Available:  Wednesday, December 4

How do you take something old and make it new again?  No problem:  add monsters!

Freshly deposited back into lovely old Riverdale (OUR lovely old Riverdale, that is…we think?) after the events of Jughead the Hunger vs Vampironica, Ronnie finds things to be not quite as she anticipated in the first issue of Vampironica: New Blood, out this week from Archie Comics.

A little of a personal back-story on this one:

As a kid, I spent a lot of my time visiting relatives—or rather, waiting for my parents to finish visiting relatives (kinda thing that happens when you come from a family who took it upon themselves to single-handedly populate an entire county).  One of my favorites among them was my great-uncle Bob’s trailer up in Antigo, because he always had a stash of Archie comics to read while he, great-aunt Jean and my folks talked about…whatever they talked about.  I’d sit for hours, gnawing on the multi-colored and flavorless hard candy that all old folks of that era seemed to have in dusty crystal dishes, reading of the travails of Arch, Jughead and their bevy of Riverdale beauties. 

I’ll own, however, that I’ve not revisited hose halcyon days much since Bob passed when I was 10, not with the entry of capes and tights and, later, zombies and apocalypses (apocalypsi?) and stories about the Endless and Conan and his spectacularly curvy red-headed counterpart taking center stage.  So, it was with a little trepidation, bordering on doubt, that I took a gander at Vampironica: New Blood (and, wanting to get caught up a bit, the previous Archie Horror series).

I needn’t have worried.

Suffice it to say, however, this is not great-uncle Bob’s Archie.

Oh, don’t get me wrong—the elements of good old Riverdale are there: the humor, the fun, cartoony (but a little grown-up from the standard Archie fare) art and vibrant color, the timeless-but-centering-around-the-’50’s-superimposed-over-today feel.  Just, you know, with vampires.  And werewolves.  And generations-long family curses and such.  You know, how they do.

So, Veronica’s back after several weeks’ absence, and Mom and Dad Lodge got some ‘splainin’ to do.  To start with, who Sir Francis Lodge was, and his (and the Lodge family’s) involvement in vampirism dating back generations.  Before that, though, she’s got a new foil to contend with, in the form of decidedly pro-vamp Edward Fogarty.  And a huge double-super-secret-surprise ending that threatens to turn ‘Ronnie’s already off-kilter world right on its head.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to show up to homeroom.

As has been the case with the previous Archie Horror series, New Blood does a nice job of maintaining that classic Archie feel, while delivering a fresh and creepy take on the old standard.  Tieri and Moreci’s story takes us even deeper down the darkened alleys of alt-Riverdale, giving us an Americana a little more reminiscent of the Lost Boys’ Santa Carla than the Happy Days-esque Riverdale we’re accustomed to.  The characters sound like the characters of auld…just, with a few death threats thrown in.  Mok’s lines are bold and fresh, and she deftly works in some campy (and some downright gruesome) gore into the work, while Herms’ colors accentuate the darker feel of the subject matter.  And Morelli’s lettering does its work, presenting the dialogue-heavy tale without being cumbersome or intrusive, and with just the right touch of pop art fun.  All in all, a more than worthy entry.

As it turns, those days of my earlier youth could’ve been a lot better, had Vampironica and the rest of Archie Horror come along, oh, four or so decades earlier.  Oh, well, at least we’ve got them now.

Available at your local bookstore, on Amazon, at Archiecomics.com or via Comixology on December 4, Vampironica: New Blood continues the evolution of the Archie Horror Universe, segueing into some character (re)development and back-story, and rooting the tales in the history of Riverdale.  If you’re into campy horror and a fun reinvention of an old preteen classic, this one’s for you.

Score: 11.5/13

Get Volume 1 here


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