In Review: Archie vs. Sharknado #1

Ian Ziering, watch your back, 'cause Archie Andrews is in your wheelhouse.

The covers: Oh hell no! — there’s more than one cover to this one-shot book. The Main cover, the A cover, is by Dan Parent. Standing atop a stack of several dead great whites is Archie Andrews, a look of smug satisfaction on his face. His clothes are torn and he holds a bloody chainsaw above his head. Holding his right hand is Veronica Lodge, looking uncomfortable climbing the pile of deceased fish. To Archie’s left is a crouching Betty, securely holding a baseball bat, hinting at what she’s used the wood for. Two tornadoes flank these characters, with Jughead battling a shark on the right for his iconic hat. This is the cover I had to purchase. The B cover, which starts the Variants, is by Francesco Francavilla. It has Archie wielding a knife and club as three sharks fly at him. The teen doesn’t look anything like Archie, only his Riverdale High jacket and the book’s title hint at who he is, and the sharks are very sketchy. This is not one of Francavilla’s better covers. The Robert Hack C Variant (and my apologies, there’s another name on the cover but I can’t make it out) has Archie and Jughead in their old-school roadster, which has water half way up the side of its doors, battling sharks with a tire iron as others rain down from the skies. I love the mixing of original Archie and his car against this modern threat. There’s also a Dan Parent Variant featuring the classic image of the great white shark from the Jaws poster at the bottom of the image wrapped within a tornado as the Riverdale teens are tossed around with it: Jason Blossom, Betty, Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. Funny, but not as finished as the other covers; it looks like a quick cover done with markers. Overall grades: A A, B D+, C B+, and Parent Variant C

The story: Betty and Veronica are in Washington D.C. with Ronnie’s father who’s there to make a proposal to Congress about something. As their car pulls up protestors are on the sidewalks with signs that say “Stop them all!”, “Storms have feelings too!”, “Sharks are sacred”, and — my favorite — “Sharkna-NO!” With daddy gone, the girls decided to take a tour of the sights, even though a storm grows. Water spouts form in the local waters, pulling sharks out, with a pair being deposited in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Inside the Washington Monument, the girls see the flying sharks, prompting Betty to yell, “Sharknado!” Anthony C. Ferrante, the writer and director of the Sharknado films, is the author of this tale, and it’s satisfying in so many wrong ways. Much like the just finished Archie vs. Predator, there’s plenty of violence, but it’s done in a manner more cartoonish than the films. As the girls deal with the dangers in the nation’s capital, the gang is at the beach down by Riverdale, where Cheryl Blossom is making moves on Archie, who invites him (and Jughead and Hot Dog) to her boat to party. Guess what happens? This is a waiting game, for when the sharks will attack, and how the gang will, or won’t, escape them. Highlights include Page 9’s final panel, 19’s panel six, 21’s third panel, the sixth panel on 29, the large panel on 30, the top of 32, and the comments on 40. There are some groaners in this, but Archie comics often do, and every Sharknado film is full of them. Believe it or not, this was fun. Overall grade: A

 The art: I grew up reading Archie Comics illustrated by Dan Parent, so I was happy to see he was illustrating this book, with inks by Rich Koslowski. If you love the Archie books, you’ll love this book. However, you’re going to see Archie and the gang involved in situations you’ve never seen them in before, as they take out several sharks in several violent ways. Having Parent and Koslowski draw the book in a format fans are familiar with makes the violence palpable. For example, without spoiling any of the kills, key visual moments occur on Pages 9, 11, 15, 17, 21, 24, 27, 30, 36, 38, and 40. Seeing all the familiar characters was also a plus, with a lifeguard looking familiar and a band making an appearance. The only part of the visuals I didn’t like were all the severed heads floating around or appearing that were obviously inside jokes to the creators of this comic book. They stood out in a negative way because they look nothing like the style that Archie and his friends are drawn in and some look sketchy, like the one at the bottom of Page 20. This happens more than once and took me out of the book. However, I loved every other part of the illustrations, so I can’t lower my grade too much. Overall grade: A-

The colors: This book has all the bold and bright colors one would associate with an Archie book and Andre Szymanowicz with Casey Silver are to be thanked for it. I was grateful to see dark blues used for the skies as the sharknadoes go spinning about; coloring them grey or black would have darkened the book too much. This isn’t a blanket color book, where one color is used for the entire image. Szymanowicz and Silver do an excellent job shading things to give the illustrations a nice three-dimensional look, such as Page 11: there’s some slick work done on the sharks, the fire, and the girls’ clothes. The gang on the beach also has some skin work done since they’re wearing swimwear. My favorite page by the pair is 38 because of the nice contrast between the blues on the shark and the reds for all the bloody gore. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Protestors’ signs, dialogue, opening title, sounds, yells, dance signage, a song, and closing credits are done by Jack Morelli. Everything he does is great, but the sounds are perfection — they look just as they should sound. Plus, I had a blast reading a few out loud. Overall grade: A+

The final line: If this is wrong, I don’t want to feel right. Unbelievably fun with outstanding visuals. Ian Ziering, watch your back, ’cause Archie Andrews is in your wheelhouse. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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