Four-Color Bullet: ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ #1

fourColorBullet1.pngHowzit, comics fans? It’s 4CB time again, and it’s time to talk comics. No stinkers in my buy pile this week, but a nod to second place goes to Titans #3 from DC Comics. Written by Dan Abnett, his take on the Rebirth of the Titans continues to open doors and reveal clues as to who’s responsible for the missing 10 years the DC Universe has experienced. It seems that this is the book to watch for answers, as a player in these mysterious events is revealed. While not one I necessarily wait for every month, it is one that I keep an eye on, and enjoy when I read it. And it’s Dan Abnett. The man is a genius.

But what I really want to talk about is …

Wriers: Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett Art: Audrey Mok ARCHIE COMICS

Wriers: Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett
Art: Audrey Mok
ARCHIE COMICS

I have a confession to make. In the Archie pantheon of awesomeness, Josie and the Pussycats are my favorite. I saw the movie with Rachael Leigh Cook nine times at the theater. The first two were full price, then at the dollar theater, but still …

So, yeah. That’s my big secret. Well, that, and I liked Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. But we’re not talking about that here. We’re talking Josie! And Melody! And Valerie! And Pepper!

It’s been awhile since that gorgeous redhead and her band of beauties got much attention. Recently, they were introduced in Afterlife with Archie # 10 as a trio of vampires. But now, they’re back in the spotlight, and looking better than ever in a more traditional and contemporary reimagining. Keeping in line with the publisher’s other relaunches, Josie and the Pussycats #1 adopts the spirit of the other titles, yet managing to stay true to the original version.

The folks at Archie Comics have been redesigning their properties for decades, so artist Audrey Mok had the daunting task of  coming up with her own unique, modern look for Josie and the gang. And she nails it. Mok gives us that simple style we’re all familiar with, and balances it with the subtlest hint of manga that expands on the classic Pussycats without abandoning them completely. Fans of the original series will recognize supporting characters like Alexandra Cabot, whose skunk-like mane is still in there, but not overwhelmingly out there, and Alan M.

Writers Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl ) and Cameron DeOrdio waste no time efficiently establishing Josie as a moderately-talented leader struggling with her own doubts and lack of confidence. The writers do a great job of setting you in an already established world, while creating a believable scenario for why Josie, Melody and Valerie would create a band. The story gets a touch kooky when Alexandra looks to tear the band apart with gossip. From everything the reader has been shown, there isn’t much set up for Alexandra’s plan to actually work. However, it’s how Josie approaches the accusations brought before her that makes this story feel like the writers are attempting to be genuine and make Josie a healthy example. Melody’s still the ditzy blonde, additionally making her a busy and talented but reluctant jet-setter and unabashed animal lover, without too much over the top zaniness.

The writers even establish a role for Pepper, the forgotten fourth Pussycat, who was eventually written out of the original franchise. Together, Bennett and DeOrdio set up a fully fleshed out cast of characters and successfully sell the idea that this reimagined rock band from Riverdale can carry a series since a short-lived first attempt over 20 years ago. The writers also give the reader sharp, witty dialogue. Bennett and DeOrdio don’t try to make their creations sound trendy or hip or whatever the cool kids are saying these days, rather, they come across as natural and intelligent.

This book is a solid introduction to the rebooted universe of Josie and the Pussycats. There is plenty to remind longtime readers of characters gone by, and enough modern points of view to bring in and keep new readers. The humor is subtle, and often tongue-in-cheek for adults, and there is a sincere look at women, friendship and newly formed interests and goals that makes this book unique from the others Archie Comics offers. It will be interesting to see how the band rises to the top of the charts, and how they handle their newfound fame. It’s funny how, as a male reader of comics, I tend to notice more how women are treated in comics, being an uber-fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and how Joss Whedon makes sure that women are treated respectfully and as women, and as the Executive Producer of that book. I think Joss would approve.

Josie and the Pussycats #1 fits right in alongside its peers. Newcomer Cameron DeOrdio complements Marguerite Bennett to help her deliver one of the strongest works of her young career, not to mention his own, while Mok updates the classic Josie look with her own distinct flair.

And that’s the Bullet for this week. Also, go check out IDW’s Revolution event. The Hasbro properties are merging into their own universe, with the Micronauts, GI Joe, Transformers, M.A.S.K., and Rom under one umbrella for one Earth-shattering epic event.

Until next week, comics fans!

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About Michael Brown

Michael Brown is a comics nerd and a father who lives in small town Tennessee. When he's not making his players mad in his "Shadowrun" RPG or experimenting with new and inventive uses of duct tape on his children, you can find him checking out the latest comics and movies for Krypton Radio!

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