Review - Vampironica: New Blood #1 (@ArchieComics)

"That this was a reality where werewolves won a war against vampires, where I met a werewolf Jughead...who I ended up kissing before rematerializing here, incidentally."

Keeping things fresh in the world of Riverdale is a tall order at this point, considering the fictional town and its exploits are decades old. That won't stop Archie Comics from trying though, with the latest entry being Vampironica: New Blood #1. The issue is written by Frank Tieri and Michael Moreci, illustrated by Audrey Mok, colored by Matt Herms and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Riverdale's own bombshell bloodsucker is back! Following the events of the Jughead the Hunger vs. Vampironica crossover, Veronica returns to her own universe, still a vampire. She's not the same, and she knows it. And now she needs answers. But she may not be ready for what she's about to discover!

Tieri and Moreci are doing fun things with the concept of Vampironica, dropping her into a Riverdale that seems to always be in the throes of some deeper, darker history. The first issue here is mainly used for getting the reader up to speed on the previous miniseries, while at the same time laying the groundwork for what's clearly a more ambitious sequel. Vampironica as a character is a really good mix of Veronica's general sense of being the alpha and the lore of Riverdale as a town. The dialogue by Tieri and Moreci really hammer home both parts; for instance, Vampironica is given plenty of lines that both support her reputation as someone not to be trifled with and that advance the story well. The issue's pacing is very even throughout the issue as the writing duo don't rush anything and let things unfold naturally.

Mok's take on the art is a solid one, as he relies on familiar linework for the characters inhabiting Riverdale. There's generally a eerie vibe throughout the issue, with Mok imbuing the characters with the right amount of nostalgia throughout the issue. Vampironica looks like a very modern take on the character as Mok works in a more stoic demeanour that comes with hunting monsters with her more traditionally peppy, cheerleader vibe. The empty gutters also allow each panel plenty of room to breathe, providing focus on the characters at the center of each panel first and foremost. Herms' colors are somewhat washed out in their appearance that lends more credibility to the reminiscent nature of the characters.

Vampironica: New Blood #1 is a strong follow-up to the first series that puts the familiar Riverdale players in unfamiliar territory. Vampironica is uncovering a slew of new information about both her family and the history of the town they call home, although what she discovers may not be good news. Tieri and Moreci offer a narrative that modernizes the decades old characters and their relationships in a fresh way. Mok's illustrations are a great fit tonally for the book, capturing both the history and the present of the characters involved. Vampironica: New Blood #1 is definitely worth a read if the first Vampironica series was appealing, but even if you're new to this universe there's still a lot to like.

Vampironica: New Blood #1 is available December 4.