When did Archie comics turn from a christmas annual parents shoved into their kids’ stockings to something interesting, risky, and plugged into modern culture? The top of this week’s comic rundown is Archie Meets Ramones, which, as the title suggests, hurls the Riverdale kids back to 1976 (they’re in present-day now, not the 1950s) to meet the band and learn life lessons. But that’s not the only cool thing Archie comics have done recently. The series reboot updates the kids to the present and tackles big issues, Afterlife with Archie is a not-for-kids horror story that’s been going on for years, and Kevin Keller has his own series as the first openly gay character in Archie Comics. Also reviewed this week: Hellboy in Hell collected in trade paperback, another awesomely weird comic in Gerard Way’s DC imprint, Young Animal, and an amazing teen superhero book from Marvel.
Archie and his pals utterly bomb the school talent show playing as The Archies, but Sabrina the Teenage Witch knows what could get them working together and sounding good. After spinning a classic Ramones album, the teens are transported back to 1976 to meet and learn from the band. What ensues is one of the weirdest adventures Archie and the gang have ever been on, where they go to Rock and Roll High School, hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach, and even travel to a pet cemetery (ring any bells?). The whole tone of the comic is a tense battle between the inherent corniness of Archie and the effortless cool of the Ramones. Ideally, kids will pick up this comic, get curious about the band, and YouTube their greatest hits.
Shade, The Changing Girl is another new release from Gerard Way’s DC Comics imprint, Young Animal, and like the Doom Patrol reboot released a few weeks back, this new comic is fresh, vibrant, and hails a return to absurdism. As a successor to the Vertigo comic, Shade, The Changing Man, this new release follows a young alien woman who idolized the former comic star. So she, like him, uses a madness vest to travel to earth. While Shade (the man) tried to save the world from madness, this new Shade has plunked her spirit down in the body of a comatose high school “mean girl” and spends this first issue holding onto reality as best she can. This is a must-read for fans of the original series, and fans of strange tales in general.
Hellboy in Hell may be Mike Mignola’s masterpiece, and this second volume collects the culmination of that work. Hellboy is, as the title suggests, in hell. And the comic follows him not on some heart-thumping quest, but as he trudges his way, through a land of confusion and hopelessness. Mignola’s sparse illustration is given deep, complex mood thanks to Stewart’s transfixing color palettes. Grab the first volume, sit down with both of these monsters, and sink into the storytelling.
The absolute best comic of the week is a new series starring the best teens in the Marvel universe. Ms. Marvel is a passionate young hero disillusioned by the Avengers, who she feels don’t do enough to help people on a smaller scale. They’ll stop the train from crashing, but won’t fix the tracks that people depend on to get to work. She joins up with other young heroes, Nova, (the new) Hulk, Spider-Man, and Vision’s daughter, Viv, to fight crime as a new, more hopefuly group. When a clown-like criminal has kidnapped a group of young women, the group snaps into action, but big questions about lethal force, and the role of the protector, come into play. This comic is for everyone, but teens watching closely as police brutality skyrockets will get a lot out of this book. Keep an eye on this one, it’s going to be an incredible series.
Which comics were your favorites this week? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @CreatorsProject.