In Review: Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #2

Time travel, murder, and mystery in Riverdale couldn't be better when these four meet.

The covers: There are thirteen covers to collect on this second outing of Riverdale meeting high adventure and the supernatural. The A cover takes place within the locker room. Sonja is suited up for a game and holding a helmet in her right arm. On her left is Veronica in pigtails, crop top, and jeans. On her knees to Sonja’s right is Betty, looking shocked at what she sees. On the floor to Sonja’s left is Veronica squatting, interested in what they are all looking at — a body! This is a great tease by artist Fay Dalton and picks up the action exactly where last issue ended. This is the cover I nabbed. The B by Robert Hack resembles a page from an old TV Guide. The upper third of this frontpiece features some fun faux shows, while below is an advertisement for the book, which is obviously a show: a car is avoiding an explosion, Jughead is shown in a bust shot, Veronica peers around a corner, Betty crawls through a window, Sonja is dressed for sport with her sword on her shoulder, and the largest image is a bust shot of Vampirella. I loved the text hyping it: TONIGHT: The girls go undercover in a deadly game of cat and mouse! This is fun. The foursome takes a selfie at the beach on the C by Laura Braga and Bryan Valenza. Vampirella, wearing a familiar red one piece, is front and center, her arms stretching out oddly because she’s holding the camera. On the right is Red Sonja in a tiny black one piece, on the left is Betty in a two piece and holding a smoothie, and Veronica barely makes it into the photo as she rides atop a gigantic floating flamingo. All I can hear is “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” when I look at this. The colors are bright and beautiful. Dan Parent provides the D cover with Vampirella and Sonja walking down one of the halls of Riverdale High and Betty making some commentary on their clothes. Archie peeks around the corner and likes what he sees. I’ve been a fan of Parent forever, so to see him doing crossover work is always a joy. Another artist whose work I enjoy is Cat Staggs, artist of the E cover. Her cover looks like one for a novel. A large head shot of a superior looking Vampirella is in the upper left and a smoldering Sonja is in the bottom right. Figures of Betty and Veronica are in the center sporting flashlights as they enter an ancient building full of skulls covering the floor. Riverdale High is in the background with a colony of bats taking wing from the roof. This is absolutely gorgeous. The B&W Incentive by Parent is the same as the D cover, minus the colors. I love Parent’s work so much, I’d nab this if I had the chance. Next up is the B&W Incentive by Braga. This is just like the C, though without Valenza’s contributions. I like it, but I like it better colored. That’s why I like the “Virgin” Incentive cover by Braga and Valenza. This is the colored cover without any text. It’s a winner. The same can also be said of the “Virgin” Incentive cover by Parent, which is the D without any text, save Betty’s comment. The “Virgin” Incentive cover by Dalton is also colored and text free, with it looking good. And I love the “Virgin” Incentive cover by Staggs which is just as stunning without text. There’s also a FOC Incentive Sketch cover by Dalton that’s a sketch of what the A cover was intended to look like. This is neat way to see the process Dalton went through in creating the A. If you like that cover, you’ll like the FOC Incentive “Virgin” Sketch cover by Dalton which features no text, showing a pure version of how the artist planned this frontpiece out. I have one side note: No paper doll covers? Seems like a missed opportunity. Parent could definitely do them and I’m sure several artists would be up to the challenge. If this series gets a sequel or a sixth issue, I’d go out of my way to nab a paper doll cover.  Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A, D A+, E A+, B&W Incentive Parent A+, B&W Incentive Braga A, “Virgin” Incentive Braga A+, “Virgin” Incentive Parent A+, “Virgin” Incentive Dalton A, “Virgin” Incentive Staggs A+, FOC Incentive Sketch Dalton, A-, and FOC Incentive “Virgin” Sketch Dalton A-

The story: Awesome Amy Chu starts this issue with each character being questioned by the police. This is a fantastic way to define each character by their posture and their response. I laughed out loud at each of their answers to the police because each is so on the mark for their characters. The police response to what they’ve been told is also fun. Naturally the four head to Pop’s to talk about what they believe they discovered in Riverdale: vampires are on a killing spree! Page 5 has a solid laugh, again completely in character, in every panel. Pages 6 and 7 have the fighters reveal to the students why they’re in Riverdale and I love Betty’s comment in the middle panel on 8. Another body is discovered just as Betty and Veronica are told their vampire story will never see print in the school newspaper. Betty heads to library to look for clues and comes upon a familiar face. While there she makes a shocking discovery from forty-nine years earlier. I love the mystery, the humor, and the twist ending. Seriously, Chu can do no wrong as a writer. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals are by Maria Sanapo and she captures the essence of the Archie characters and the action characters in her own fantastic style. The first page is a wonderful introduction to each. Take note how each character sits while interrogated — it absolutely defines them. Vampirella’s order response on the second page makes me smile each time I see her face. The creature on 4 and 5 is outstanding and I hope that Sanapo gets to create something like this for the big bad of this series. I love the look of the setting on 11 with each character physically reacting as one would expect and they look great! Each character gets their own panel on 12 and again shows through the visuals, not text, how they act to the same assignment. Sanapo has really got a strong handle on each individual’s personality. Page 14 is a full-paged splash revealing the newest corpse and it looks good, but the character in the foreground looks simple compared to other two character. I’ve never seen the editor of the school newspaper before and she’s exceptionally well done. The final page of the book is also a full-paged splash and it’s fantastic. I really want to see this image become reality. I’m loving Sanapo’s work on this book and the only way it could be better is if she got to include paper dolls. Dynamite, I’ll pay extra if she does! Overall grade: A

The colors: Vinicius Andrade is the book’s colorist and he does a great job as well. Notice how each character on that fantastic first page receives their own unique colors making them stand out. I especially love Vampirella’s fiery red eyes. The highlights inside Pop’s look outstanding on the characters, with their hair and skin receiving a cinematic shine. I also like the realism created by the colors of the editor’s glasses. The last page of the book has a picture colored in aged whites to give the image a dated quality and it works handsomely. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito is one of the best letterers in the biz and for this issue he creates dialogue, signage, a sound, a scream, newspaper text, and the three word tease for next issue. The dialogue is easy to read and the signage believable. There’s only one sound because there’s only one action in the book and Esposito has it matching the action perfectly. The scream is horror movie quality, as it should be, and the newspaper text is big and bold for a high school. Overall grade: A

The final line: Time travel, murder, and mystery in Riverdale couldn’t be better when these four meet. The story is excellent with each character true to classic personalities even though they are involved in some massive strangeness. The visuals have strong characters and settings with perfect colors. This book is a treat for fans of any one of these characters. All that’s missing is a paper dolls page. Overall grade: A 

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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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