JAWS DROP IN “ARCHIE VS. SHARKNADO” (REVIEW)
Written by: Anthony C. Ferrante
Art by: Dan Parent
A storm is coming to Riverdale, except you won’t want to stay inside for this one — make sure you go out and get yourself a copy of Archie Vs. Sharknado, whether you’ve been spending your time since it was first announced hyped or simply curious. How good will it be? How weird? I won’t spoil the details for you, but what I can do is put your mind at rest: If you’re put off by the premise it’s a shame, because yes, you’ll want to read this issue.
To look at this one-shot title and dismiss it as “gimmicky” would, in my opinion, definitely be a mistake; what Archie Vs. Sharknado was to me was fun. Here’s the thing: Archie Comics at their core are about fun, humor, gimmicks, antics — and that goes for readers and creators alike. I had fun reading this issue and it’s clear writer Anthony Ferrante (also the director of the Sharknado films) and penciller Dan Parent had fun bringing it to life. I was sold from the preview pages alone: the humor is clear and clever both in Ferrante’s dialogue and in the visual gags Parent inserts throughout the story. I have not seen a single Sharknado film and who knows if I ever will, but the absurdity of that premise is embraced, not ignored, while the comic still more than holds it own with the quality of the art and story.
For example, there is a lot about Ferrante’s script that effortlessly guides the story along, balancing the premise and how the characters need to deal with it while maintaining a charming — but appropriately applied — layer of Archie-style levity on top. Most impressive to me was that when I got to the end of the issue I was surprised with how much had fit into 40 pages; it really did feel like a movie in some way; there are several character storylines that get followed through, and even plot twists! Parent’s art also does an incredible job balancing the drama and humor, even as sharks and bodies are flying through his panels. The chaotic page layouts he employs and numerous crowd shots and cameos are just amazing and visually thrilling from start to end.
Best of all, this issue makes great use of characters that aren’t Archie to help bring it to conclusion; I’ve mentioned before how much it means to me when Betty and Veronica are used appropriately to save the day, but it’s not just them, either. Kevin Keller (!), Dilton Doiley, and other beloved — and more minor, in some cases — Archie characters step forward to lend a hand, including Josie and the Pussycats. Especially with all the recent pushes in Archie Horror (which I love, by the way, don’t think I’m knockin’ it!) it’s always nice to have the reminder amidst all the grim and dark media we get in other places that Archie is not a company that views drama and absurdity as things that should never overlap. So it is fun, exciting, and yes, a little silly, but I don’t think that’s at all a bad thing.