Top Comics to Buy for February 6, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This is pretty much a perfect week for new comics, featuring as it does the launch of multiple exciting new #1 series (the bright shiny new toy to the long-time comics fan) as well as the return of some of the best books on the market right now, including a new arc for Wasted Space and the conclusion of the phenomenal Archie 1941. Plus, books like Die continue to establish themselves as wonderful new comics.

There is, simply put, a lot going on this week, and so here we are as always with a brief guide: Top Comics to buy for February 6, 2019. As is standard protocol, we’ve selected our top 5 (plus a pick of the week), listed the most-exciting new #1 issues, and thrown-in for good measures the others that received votes. The top 5 are more heavily weighted toward books that have already established them, but rest assured, you can’t go wrong this week checking out anything from Female Furies to G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte. Just choose wisely, there are a ton of stellar comics to pick from.

And now, on to the actual comics!

Top Comics to Buy for February 6, 2019

Archie 1941 #5.jpg

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Archie 1941 #5
Writers:
Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99
Archie Andrews-MIA and presumed dead! His friends and family-devastated! Don't miss out on the conclusion of this headline-making comic event!
Why It’s Cool: It’s a young year, but this is easily a front-runner for the best single issue of 2019 at this point. This entire series—which re-imagines Archie set in 1941 (incidentally the year he was created) during WWII—has been something truly special. With a different sort of fandom than superhero comics but no less an iconic history, Archie Comics as a publisher is generally freer to use its characters for alternate takes, or at least such has been the case in recent years. While the horror comics and Life With Archie have all been interesting, this is the prestige picture in the bunch, a comic with impeccable historical research, a deep emotional core, and unbelievable artwork courtesy of Peter Krause. This is not to be missed.

Die #3.jpg

Die #3
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"FANTASY HEARTBREAKER," Part Three: One of the saddest comics in Kieron's career. One of Stephanie's prettiest. Clayton's lettering, of course, remains impeccable.
Why It’s Cool: As we wrote in our reviews of Die #1 and Die #2, this comic is one of the most-exciting new creator-owned books in some years, combining as it does the recent trend of teen D&D nostalgia with the dark lessons of life's hard-lived. Well, this third issue to the book feels like a bit of a thematic pivot. Fantasy has always been inherent to this title (the basic premise is that years ago six friends went into a realized fantasy realm via a role-playing game and only five came out—and now those five have been pulled back in), and this comic looks at some of the real-life inspiration for fantasy as we know it: WWI, which Lord of the Rings progenitor J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a veteran of. Essentially, this is a gorgeous and sadly poetic comic that draws a shattering parallel between fantasy games and stories we enjoy, and the real-life strife that helped to create them.

Justice League #17
Writer:
Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Cheung
Inkers: Cheung with Mark Morales and Walden Wong
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
After the disastrous events of the Justice League Annual, Martian Manhunter decides to take matters into his own hands and negotiate a peace with Legion of Doom leader Lex Luthor. Traveling to a distant moon, the two enemies face their intertwined pasts in a showdown for the fate of the Multiverse. However, before either of them can lay claim to the power of the Source Wall once and for all, an unexpected threat forces them to unite...or risk death at the ends of the cosmos.
Why It’s Cool: Last week’s Justice League Annual #1 was my favorite issue of the Snyder/Tynion/Cheung/Jimenez Justice League era to date, but it won’t reign long—this one is even better. Since No Justice ended, my favorite element to this complex and grandiose run has been the idea of Martian Manhunter and Lex Luthor essentially captaining their opposing teams in a conflict of ideology wherein both thinks they are doing what’s best to save the multiverse or at least the Earth. This story takes that concept to another level. I won’t go into how, but it’s a sight to behold. Highly recommend this.

These Savage Shores #3
Writer:
Ram V.
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Colorist: Vittorio Astone
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
The stench of war clings to the air as Hyder Ali of Mysore comes calling for the levy. Good men and demons alike are set to march, even as lovers part with the promise of a safe return. But in these troubling times the promise of a hunt brings the devil himself to this faraway coast. Along These Savage Shores where blood begets blood and dawn-light shimmers over a land soaked in betrayal.
Why It’s Cool: Way way too many disparate properties these days are getting compared to Game of Thrones. In fact, I feel like it’s become reductive pop culture short-hand for something I like that’s slightly beyond average scope. But! Try as I might, I can’t help but describe this third excellent issue of These Savage Shores as feeling in scope a bit like Game of Thrones. It just has so many of the elements: large-scale political machinations, alliance building, betrayals, and seemingly inconsequential deaths having ripple effects that seemed destined to have retribution due. These Savage Shores also remains a gorgeous comic, as lush with its artwork as it is lyrical in its dialogue and narrative prose. If you’re not reading this comic, I don’t know what to tell you at this point.

Wasted Space #6
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Now officially an ongoing! The whole fam damily is back! Billy visits a crooked politician. Dust and Fury make sweet bot-love in unsanitary locations. A ghost haunts Molly's visions of Rex. And Legion pets a dog. The galaxy is still totally borked, but maybe together they can un-bork it... oh, probably not.
Why It’s Cool: One of my absolute favorite comics of 2018 is back, and it’s at the same high (sorry) level it was when we last saw it. This issue has all the hallmarks of this series: the humor, the high-minded philosophical contemplations, the subtextual commentary on the modern world, and the ever-looming threat of even more space nukes that might destroy the world. It is, in other words, a very very good comic. We’ll have a review of this book later in the week, but know now that each and every one of you should be reading this.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command #1

  • Daredevil #1

  • Female Furies #1

  • G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #1

  • Girl in the Bay #1

  • Gunhawks One-Shot

  • Man and Superman 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1

  • Oberon #1

  • Red Sonja #1

  • Vindication #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1

  • Archie #702

  • Avengers #14

  • Batman #64

  • Conan the Barbarian #3

  • Deathstroke #40

  • Dreaming #6

  • Giant Days #47

  • The Green Lantern #4

  • Immortal Hulk #14

  • Killmonger #4

  • Prodigy #3

  • Self/Made #3

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #8

  • Wrong Earth #6

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for September 12, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — I spent this past weekend at Rose City Comic Con in Portland (which was pretty fantastic, as one might expect from a smaller-ish con in a cool city), and as a result I didn’t have as much time as usual to go over my advanced review copies for the week. Luckily, I’d had a chance to read some books in advance and some others while I’m there. That, plus the strength of previews, is what has given us our list.

You know what? For the second straight week I’m putting six comics in our Top Comics to Buy section (plus the new #1s and the 15 in the lower section). It’s my list, I make the rules, etc. I just find that dropping that last book down to others receiving votes is too thin a margin to really justify keeping it out. And, hey, what’s the hard in just one more tiny recommendation, right? Comics are too good right now.

Onward!

Top Comics to Buy for September 12, 2018

Archie 1941 #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Artist: Peter Krause
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99
THE HISTORIC, GROUND-BREAKING MINI-SERIES STARTS HERE! Archie has been around for over 75 years and has been through many significant moments in time, but never before have we seen the characters take on real-world events as they unfold. WWII is looming and Archie and many young men from Riverdale are close to enlistment age. If you're a Riverdale teen, how would you cope with a looming world-changing event? Join the writing team of MARK WAID and BRIAN AUGUSTYN along with artist PETER KRAUSE for the all-new mini-series that is sure to have everyone talking!

Why It’s Cool: Mark Waid is a thoughtful writer with a vast respect for comics history...and this is a book steeped in thoughtful concepts and comics history. It seems like an ideal fit, a great way to look at the universality of being young and facing the churn of a tumultuous world.

Amazing Spider-Man #5
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Things look bad for Peter Parker......but GREAT for Spider-Man! The first arc of the epic new run on ASM comes to a climactic finish!

Why It’s Cool: We’ve been pretty effusive with our praise for this new Amazing Spider-Man creative team, which you can read about in this review of Amazing Spider-Man #4. Given that excitement, we are understandably psyched to see how they rap up their very first arc with Marvel’s flagship character. They've set up a pretty intriguing plot point, and we're excited to see how they pay it off and what kind of seeds they plant for the future in the process (ahem, more Mary Jane?)

Cemetery Beach #1 (of 7)
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Letterer: Fonografiks
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
From the creators of the acclaimed TREES graphic novels, which are currently being adapted for television, comes something completely different. A professional pathfinder, his only ally a disaffected young murderess, breaks out of a torture cell in pursuit of his worst extraction scenario ever: escaping on foot across a sprawling and secret off-world colony established a hundred years ago and filled with generations of lunatics. WARREN ELLIS & JASON HOWARD ignite a high-speed new action serial.

Why It’s Cool: This is a high-speed, high-concept action thriller with a ton of the usual big Warren Ellis ideas waiting just beneath the surface to be explored. Howard’s artwork is kinetic and crackling, and the team as a whole does a fantastic job, putting together one of the best debut issues all year. Read more here.

House of Whispers #1
Writer: Nalo Hopkinson
Artist: Dominike “Domo” Stanton
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
An all-new corner has been added to Neil Gaiman's Sandman Universe! Welcome to the House of Dahomey, the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda, where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep to beseech the flirtatious and tragic goddess to grant them their hearts' desires and counsel them on their futures and fortunes. When you arrive, you'll find a party is in full swing, filled with all kinds of fabulous and fierce folk, while fish fry and music blasts. From her bayou, Erzulie scries upon the mortal realm and sees four human girls open a mysterious and magical journal filled with whispers and rumors that, if they spread, could cause a pandemic unlike any the Earth has seen, with the power to release Sopona, the loa lord of infectious disease and cousin to Erzulie, who is currently banned from the human plane. But even the fearsome Erzulie cannot be of assistance when her dream river turns tumultuous, tossing her house from her realm and into another…

Why It’s Cool: This book had me at all-new corner has been added to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe...mostly because I’m a Sandman neophyte (who is very publically and shamefully making up for this on Twitter by reading an issue of that series every night). Not having a lengthy pre-existing relationship with the seminal series—but still wanting in on the fun—this book is perfect for me. I also heard Hopkinson and Stanton discuss their plans for the book at SDCC, and it sounds fantastic.   

Long Lost Book 2 #2
Writer: Matthew Erman
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Scout Comics
Price: $3.99
Thought. Void. Space. Hazel Patch. Piper is lost and must work with an unlikely ally to find a way home while Frances is reunited with Jody as she sheds new light on everything that has happened. Piper and Frances are fast approaching the end and as questions are answered, they are forced to make game-changing decisions.

Why It’s Cool: Long Lost is a hazy and haunting dream of a comic, one that deals in nostalgia, regret, the lasting effects of childhood damage, and the ongoing fade of America’s small towns...it’s also one of my favorite new comics discoveries this year. This book is clearly headed to a massively intriguing climax, and I for one can’t wait.

Wicked + Divine #39
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Dee Cunniffee
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
END OF STORY ARC! A 2018 Eisner Award nominee for Best Continuing Series and Best Lettering by CLAYTON COWLES! "MOTHERING INVENTION": Conclusion-Well, it's the end of the arc, in just about every way you could define those particular words.

Why It’s Cool: Wicked + Divine is far into its end-game now, and so many plot points from its distant past are coming around to matter. The end of last arc was certainly heavy with revelations, and we expect the last issue of the penultimate arc of this fantastic ongoing title to be much the same. As always, here’s hoping for HBO or a similarly-prestige heavy network to tap this one for adaptation.

Recommended New #1 Comics for September 12, 2018

  • Iceman #1

  • Journey Into Mystery: Birth of Krakoa #1

  • Low Road West #1 (of 5)

  • MCMLXXV #1

  • Wrong Earth #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Champions #24

  • Crowded #2

  • Fantastic Four #2

  • Flash #54

  • Hawkman #4

  • Hot Lunch Special #2

  • Infinity Wars #3

  • Mech Cadet Yu #12

  • New World #3

  • Seeds #2

  • Supergirl #22

  • Wasted Space #5

  • Weatherman #4

  • Wildstorm: Michael Cray #11

  • Wonder Woman #54

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Previews for the Week of June 25

By Zack Quaintance — In week two of our new Monday morning previews feature, we’ve decided to keep things indie-centric. For a couple of reasons: 1. Marvel and DC don’t really return our calls; and 2. In general, Big 2 books get plenty of publicity.

With that in mind, this week Batman actually does make an appearance in one of our previews, while the others run the gamut from yet another promising horror book from Cullen Bunn (quickly becoming one of the most prolific horror comic writers of all time) to an interesting book from up-and-coming publisher Scout Comics.

As always, we’ll give you the preview text from the publishers, any provided artwork, and, of course, our take on why it’s exciting.

Let’s do this!

*PREVIEW OF THE WEEK*
Archie Meets Batman '66 #1

Writers: Jeff Parker & Michael Moreci
Artist: Dan Parent
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/18/18
Two iconic comic book characters meet up for the FIRST TIME in this historic crossover mini-series! A battle in Gotham City extends its reach into Riverdale—with Mr. Lodge becoming enemy #1 of the dynamic duo! Now it’s up to Veronica to recruit some help and place a call… to the Batcave! 
Our Take: We grew up watching old re-runs of the Batman (1966) live action show, which were probably on TBS or something, and we also did our fair share of paging through Archie comics while in the grocery checkout line with our parents. Basically, we expect this to be a book that's heavy on nostalgia in the best way, most likely one that also brings some funny. VERY exciting.

Bone Parish #1
Writer:
Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/2018
Cullen Bunn (Empty Man, The Unsound) returns to BOOM! Studios with a chilling necromantic horror story! A new drug is sweeping through the streets of New Orleans.one made from the ashes of the dead. Wars are being fought over who will control the supply, while the demand only rises. While the crime families wage war, users begin to experience terrifying visions of the dead coming back to life-through them.
Our Take: Cullen Bunn seemingly won't rest until he's scared every single reader who regularly picks up a comic book. We're still catching up on some of his more recent work (Winnebago Graveyard has some really impressive buzz and is loaded and ready to go on my tablet), but this book looks great, combining zombie horror (very hot right now) with a dystopian drug culture and New Orleans. Very promising.

Patience! Conviction! Revenge!
Writer:
Patrick Kindlon
Artist: Marco Ferrari
Colorist: Patrizia Comino
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9/19/2018
Disregarded, disrespected and dismissed, Renny has a chip on his shoulder. Once an equal partner in a criminal syndicate that rules Las Vegas, he now finds himself living in a shack in the desert. But the shack has a workshop, and Renny's been busy. It’s time to march his robot army into the neon hell of a cyberpunk Vegas and retake his seat at the table. Or take the wood from the table and build enough caskets for the whole syndicate.
Our Take: This book is billed as an Elmore Leonard novel set in the world of Blade Runner, a concept we can't believe hasn't happened yet. We aren't familiar with the creators, but AfterShock has established itself as a reliable publisher of new and rising talent. We're definitely game to give this one a shot, especially given that the artwork is total fire, reminding us of Daniel Warren Johnson in the best possible way.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1
Writers:
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Artist: MJ Erickson
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 07/18/2018
Writing team Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (Deadpool, Death Be Damned) return to The Thrilling Adventure Hour in this new series based on the wildly popular Hollywood stage show and podcast. Frank and Sadie Doyle are the toast of the upper crust. Headliners on the society pages. And they see ghosts. Follow the Doyles on a night when having a drink (or ten) with friends goes horribly, and perhaps predictably, wrong at a haunted house.
Our Take: We like that this book is written by two guys with the same first name and last names that are essentially slight variations on each other. Very stylish. This is also interesting because it's somewhat of a mixed media event: a comic based on a Hollywood stage show and podcast, incarnations of which have involved the likes of Paul F. Tompkins, Nathan Fillion, Linda Carellini and more. It'll be interesting to see how it plays as a comic.

Wulfborne #1
Writer/Artist: 
Brian Middleton Jr.
Publisher: Scout Comics
WULFBORNE is a fantasy adventure about a bitter swordsman who enters the underworld at the behest of an angel who has offered to heal his broken heart. Along the way, he will encounter a myriad of strange travelers, some monstrous and hostile, others intent on turning him back. But if what the legends say is true, the angel of the underworld just might be more dangerous than the monsters that call that place home.
Our Take: Scout Comics is one of an increasing number of publishers in the industry that bears watching (add it to the list with AfterShock, Lion's Forge, and Vault). The concept of this book is super straight forward, but based on the preview art, we could be in for quite a treat when it hits stands sometime in the fall.

 

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Previews For the Week of June 18

By Zack Quaintance — In recent weeks, we’ve launched a semi-relentless campaign to be added to as many comic book publisher media lists as possible. Okay, full disclosure, this has been an ongoing campaign for some time. But recently there’s been success! Anyway, thanks to some good folks who do publicity for many of our favorite comic publishers, we’re now regularly getting previews to share with you.

As such, this is the first in a weekly series titled Top New Previews From Last Week, which is exactly what it sounds like. Below you’ll find promotional copy and photos from some of the most exciting previews that came our way last week, along with a lukewarm take, in which we give a brief reaction to the book.

Enjoy!

Archie #32
Writers: Mark Waid & Ian Flynn
Artist: Audrey Mok
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Archie Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/11/18
It all comes down to this! The Riverdale gang—held hostage by Cheryl Blossom's father! Reggie—at last paying for his crimes! And when all is said and done, Riverdale is turned upside down once more!
Our Take: Archie has become one of those books that is so good we take it for granted, dating back to when Mark Waid and Fiona Staples relaunched it back in July 2015. This latest arc has been solid, too. Enjoy guilt free!

Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #1 (of 4)
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/18
The Roman standard – the eagle borne at the front of each Roman legion – was more than just a symbol of the soldiers that carried it…It was a symbol of Rome itself, the ultimate embodiment of the empire’s power…

But now, in the mist-shrouded Germanic forest of Tottenwald, the unthinkable has happened: A rampaging barbarian horde has crushed three of Rome’s most highly skilled detachments in battle…and captured their mighty Roman eagles.

His authority threatened by this all-too-public shame, the mad emperor Nero has dispatched Antonius Axia, the empire’s finest “detectioner” and hero of Britannia, and Achillia, the sword-wielding champion of the gladiatorial arena, to reclaim his stolen relics at any cost.

But what began as a simple mission will soon become a terrifying journey into the dark heart of belief itself as the isolated woodlands of Rome’s enemies reveal unseen dimensions…and the true power of the legion’s lost eagles threatens to consume any who would pursue them…

Our Take: We’ve loved previous volumes of Britannia. The adventures of Valiant’s detectioner are as creepy as they are unpredictable. Some of Milligan’s best work (which is saying a lot), we’re all in for volume three! Also, for new readers these books really do stand on their own nicely.

Giant Days #40
Writer: John Alison
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / On Sale 7.4.18
Ed Gemmel returns to Sheffield after a summer spent healing bones and also his heart. Esther does her best to welcome him back, but neither of them have forgotten his drunken confession.
Lukewarm Take: Giant Days has been so good for so long, that’s it’s earning its place among all-time great slice-of-life comics. Powered by John Alison’s brilliant sense of character and dry wit, this book is a regular favorite of ours. Extra points for any issues featuring Ed Gemmel.

Harbinger Wars 2: Aftermath #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Adam Pollina
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9.26.18
The power’s back online and the fighting is over…but who are the real victors of Harbinger Wars 2, and what was truly lost in the carnage? For those who survived the terrible onslaught – and who must now witness the devastating aftereffects of their actions – will there ever be peace again?
Our Take: Harbinger Wars 2 is shaping up to be the Valiant Universe’s Civil War, and so far we’ve loved every moment of it. This event has done some deep, nuanced work with character motivations that is really paying off. Sign us up for this aftermath one-shot, too.

Moth & Whisper #1
Writer: Ted Anderson
Artist: Jen Hickman
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9.12.18
Everyone knows that the two greatest thieves in the city are the Moth and the Whisper. Very few know that the Moth and the Whisper disappeared six months ago. And what nobody knows is that the new Moth and Whisper are actually one person pretending to be both of them. One supremely skilled but uncertain young genderfluid thief: Niki, the child of the Moth and the Whisper.

Niki has been trained by their parents in the arts of stealth and infiltration, but they’re still just a teenager, and now they’re alone, searching for their parents in a hostile cyberpunk dystopia. Corporations run the streets while crime lords like Ambrose Wolfe run the alleys—identity is a commodity and privacy is impossible. The truth about Niki’s parents and their disappearance is out there, but can Niki survive long enough to find it?

A Young Adult cyberpunk thriller starring a genderqueer super-thief, Moth & Whisper is the brainchild of Ted Anderson (My Little Pony, Adventure Time) and Jen Hickman (Jem and the Holograms, The Dead), that just HAD to be told at AfterShock!

Our Take: AfterShock Comics has been on some kind of roll lately, with a slew of new books in 2018 that are high on quality and also rich with what’s becoming a trademark AfterShock sensibility—heavy on the thrills with a side of genre, be it science fiction, dark fantasy, or horror. This book has an interesting premise and one hell of a creative team.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

REVIEW: Vampironica #2 by Greg Smallwood & Meg Smallwood

STL077522.jpg

Vampironica No. 1 was essentially just a brief introduction to Archie Comics’ latest horror book. It was a fast and good-looking comic, one that got the horror started, laid on some heavily eerie ambiance, turned Veronica Lodge into the titular Vampironica, and gave all of us readers some of Greg Smallwood’s creeptacular imagery to feast our eyeballs on (much like Vampironica feasted on supple necks). But that first issue wasn’t a substantial read, and, truth be told, it didn’t really have to be. It was a hook and that was just fine.

Now, fast-forward a couple months (there have been delays), and here we are at Vampironica No. 2, which does a solid-to-very-good job of filling in any expository blanks left by its predecessor, questions like who turned Veronica, what's this story going to be about, and exactly what sort of vampire will she be? Vampironica No. 2, to put it simply, delivers missing context, while also upping the ante by throwing in usual Riverdale melodrama (of the Archie-Betty-Veronica variety, of course), plus an unexpected twist.

This issue strikes an excellent middle ground between horror and camp, the exact tone these Archie horror books need to hit in order to work best. Greg and Meg Smallwood (who joins her husband here for a story by credit) are clearly fans of both Archie and horror, and they seem to lean into what they're inner fans would like to see.

I won’t spoil it, but there is one particularly campy and grotesque dream sequence about midway through the book that let me know the Smallwoods were in full control, and that we as readers/Archie horror fans could just sit back and trust in the upcoming bloody fun.

Smallwood draws a great  OMG!  face.

Smallwood draws a great OMG! face.

Smallwood’s art is, of course, excellent throughout, but he especially excels with Veronica’s facial expressions, which run the usual Veronica gamut from OMG what am I even doing in Riverdale I’m a Lodge! to very charming and sweet. As far as the story goes, this is also a deceptively-dense script, one driven by three distinct types of storytelling: Riverdale, horror, and mythology.

By the time we reach our end, we’ve gotten key ingredients of our hero’s journey: Veronica has a mentor for the threshold she’s crossed, and we as an audience have a villain to watch machinate against her. This issue basically assures us that the book will go to some delightfully-dark places, made even livelier by Smallwood’s strong artwork.

Overall: Vampironica No. 2 delivers any and all missing context that the first issue that was withheld in favor of stylish brevity. Smallwood’s artwork is strong and creepy as ever, and the Smallwood’s story shows not just an excellent grasp of Riverdale, but that they might just have a bit more planned than Vampironica biting a bloody path through high school. 7.7/10

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.