In Review: Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #5

The antagonist is revealed and the teenagers are in trouble!

The covers: An ominous thirteen covers to find for this installment. The A cover by Fay Dalton has Betty and Red Sonja in the locker room. Both turn around at the figure whose shadow envelopes them. Betty looks startled and Sonja looks ready for battle, grabbing her sword. This is a good tease for what’s within the issue. I am in love with the B cover by Robert Hack. It’s an Italian interpretation of what this series would look like. On a bright yellow background a red circle contains Vampirella hissing, Sonja holding her sword, and Betty screaming. Oh, and there’s a vampire skull with an open mouth and eyeballs in its sockets. Lying before the circle of these characters is an unconscious Veronica with blood around her. I love this. The heroes are looking through the window of an establishment on the C by Laura Braga and Bryan Valenza. Vampirella has a hand on the glass, with her eyes glowing red. Sonja looks inside indifferently. Straining to see behind the vampire is Betty, while Veronica is shocked by what she spies from behind Sonja. The door is colored red on the inside due to the blood on it. Great cover. I had to grab Dan Parent’s D cover. All four characters are in cheerleader garb with Vampirella doing the splits on the ground, Veronica is on the left and Betty on the right behind her. Each bends a knee inward to allow Sonja to stand on them. All have pom poms out. A field of stars explodes behind them in orange. This is what I want my crossover comics to look like. Cat Staggs delivers another realistic cover on the E. Vampirella and Sonja look down at the reader from the upper left. A goat with massive horns turned to the right dominates the middle of the book, colored a blood red. Two test tubes are below the supernatural heroines, with Betty in one and Veronica in the other. This hits all the right heroic and horror buttons. Fantastic! The 10 Copy Incentive B&W cover by Parent is the same as the D, but without colors or the stars in the background. If I ever see one, I’m buying it. The 20 Copy Incentive B&W cover by Braga is the C, also without colors. This is good, but looks better colored. The 30 Copy Incentive “Virgin” cover by Braga and Valenza is the C cover without any text. It’s good. The 40 Copy Incentive “Virgin” cover by Parent is the D without any text. Again, if I see one, I’m snagging it. The Limited Edition “Virgin” cover by Dalton is the A cover sans text. I like this. The Limited Edition “Virgin” cover by Staggs is sensational. If this isn’t a print it would be a crime. The FOC Incentive cover by Parent is the cover he did for Issue #4 but without colors and the linework is light blue. Different. Also different is the FOC Incentive cover by Braga, featuring the C cover’s art without colors, though this linework is colored red. Nice, but I prefer the other versions of this cover. Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C A, D A+, E A+, 10 Copy Incentive B&W Parent A+, 20 Copy Incentive B&W B, 30 Copy Incentive “Virgin” A, 40 Copy Incentive “Virgin” A+, Limited Edition “Virgin” Dalton A, Limited Edition “Virgin” Staggs A+, FOC Incentive Parent B, and FOC Incentive Braga B

The story: A news broadcast sets the stage for the terror that’s sweeping through Riverdale. Curfew has been instituted, with several familiar faces unable to go into Pop’s because he’s closed early. Police walk the streets looking for the murderers. Meanwhile, in Dilton Doiley’s hospital room he’s surrounded by the four ladies who want to stop the killings that have been happening in this piece of Americana. Dilton can’t remember much of what happened to him, only that he was attacked by at least two people. Betty reveals that all the victims had Type O blood, but there’s still no motive. They decide to keep Dilton in the hospital as bait with Sonja and Vampirella waiting behind. Someone learns something important on Page 6 that will cause trouble for everyone. Betty and Veronica have to leave for an odd request and a few hours later trouble comes to the hospital. I liked seeing the veteran characters use their abilities to thwart the attackers. The real surprise from Amy Chu with assist by Alexander Chang is what Betty and Veronica learn. It’s a good surprise who’s responsible for the killing, and the justification for doing so, but I did not foresee who the big bad is of this series. This is a great choice from the writers and I’m on fire to see how this plays out next month. Overall grade: A

The art: There are six credited artists for this issue. It’s not stated in the crowded credits as to who’s responsible for what. The artists are Maria Laura Sanapo, Luis Garcia Marina, Iván F. Silva, with David Anton, Mariano Taibo, and Alvaro Sarraseca. The opening page clearly shows the reader that the town is on edge; it’s so clear that the text isn’t needed. The transition to the hospital at the bottom of the page is smooth. I like the introduction of the title characters and Dilton’s flashback, with the return of the groovy picture from the past. I like how Dilton’s input is done in the final panel on Page 4, which makes me smile. When Sonja and Vampirella are going to be staying behind, the angle at which the characters are shown makes them strong. Page 7 looks like the start of a new artist as the characters have become angular. It’s not bad, but it’s a different artist. The arrival of the killers is good, and the transformation at the top of 9 is really cool. Dilton looks heavier on these pages, though. Page 10 is a full-paged splash and isn’t the greatest: the heroes are too far from the reader and the villains are disguised. The action on the next page is good, with it looking really good on 12. The heroes are too far from the reader again at the end of 13, with their lack of pupils making them look possessed. Another artist starts on 14, with Veronica’s forehead and cheeks looking large. I do like the layout at the top of 15 which is a good way to reacquaint the reader with the series’ clues. 16 is another full-paged splash and again suffers from being too far from the reader. Plus, the leads do not look good on this page. There’s a lot of wasted space in this illustration. I do like the mob being in silhouette on the next page, making them look larger in number. The last page features a neat creature, ending with a large panel that introduces the big bad. He looks a little odd, while the female character looks good. The art on this book is inconsistent due to the number of illustrators. Overall grade: C

The colors: Mohan does a good job on this book. I like the really bright colors in the second panel on the opening page that is like a slap in the reader’s face that things are not as they should be. The hospital scenes have the expected clean look to them, allowing the bright colors of the characters to stand out. Betty’s coloring in the first panel on the third page is wonderful. I also like the work done with everyone’s hair, giving it depth. The flash of red on Page 7 is perfect. I like the mustard used for the scene setting at the top of 8, with the reds that return on 9 cool. I really like the white streaks on the arriving baddies in the first full-paged splash. The fighting on 12 and 13 is a little too dark, with the characters blending in too much with the setting. I like that a character’s dialogue balloon is colored black to give the speaker an otherworldly tone. The reds in the final panel of the book look terrific. Overall grade: A-

The letters: This issue’s text is by Taylor Esposito and includes broadcast dialogue, signage, dialogue, yells, sounds, and a minion’s speech. I like that the transmissions are in italics to make them sound different from the dialogue. The signs are appropriate for their locations. The dialogue is easy on the eyes, with the yells employing the same text but in a thicker and sometimes larger font. The sounds are good, though don’t occur often. The one instance of the minion’s speech looks cool, which makes the closing villain’s dialogue disappointing since it’s in the same dialogue as normal people. Overall grade: B+

The final line: The antagonist is revealed and the teenagers are in trouble! Vampirella and Sonja fight in a hospital, but are unaware of the danger Betty and Veronica are in. The story is fun, but the art is by six individuals and it’s a very uneven experience. I’m in for the complete run of this series, but the visuals make this the weakest entry so far. Overall grade: B+

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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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