Archie is no longer just the comic you remember reading when Mom needed to shut you up with a grocery store digest book. Over the last few years, the line has matured, adding a gay character, an interracial romance, and a series of truly dark horror comics featuring zombies and witches. Archie has also been branching out into cheeky crossovers like Archie Meets Glee and Archie vs. Predator. With Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No debuting tonight on SyFy, the director of that film trilogy and the most prominent creator at Archie comics team up for this delightfully weird little one-shot.
Betty and Veronica are in Washington, DC, when a Sharknado hits, destroying a variety of recognizable monuments and leaving America’s favorite frenemies covered in chum and desperate to get back to Riverdale to warn all their classmates before the big dance. Unfortunately, the hometown gang is all having a pre-dance party on Cheryl Blossom’s yacht when the Riverdale Sharknado forms up. The survivors of the attack join Josie and the Pussycats in the Riverdale gym for a good-natured third act full of explosions, chainsaws, and rivers of gore.
This is far from a perfect comic book. Most of the jokes about the teens and their relationships, like the dull triangle of Moose, Midge, and Reggie, fall flat. Dan Parent’s usually strong cartooning lacks the consistency between panels to really look like a finished story; the individual pictures of squeaky young Americans stabbing sharks look great, but the page layout doesn’t give the reader much cue of what to read next or how the attacks fit together in space.
That said, part of the charm of the Sharknado movies is the way they love mediocrity in filmmmaking, and the good-natured fizz of this book far outweighs the technical misfires. The Pussycats get a great joke based on the metacommentary that Tara Reid played Melody in their underrated 2001 comedy as well as the romantic lead in the shark trilogy. A background character proudly wears an Amity Island T-shirt. The shark that eats Sabrina’s cat puffs up adorable chubby cheeks and rests for a little while before swimming. Sweet beats of levity like this pull the humor out of the carnage, and this book succeeds in the same daffy mission as the movies that gave it life.
Head on down to Ultimate Comics and pick up your copy of Archie vs. Sharknado in time for tonight’s SyFy premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!