Let’s call it as we see it: the Sharknado film franchise, currently filming its fourth movie in the series, ain’t the greatest cinema in the world. But it knows what it is: entertaining, ridiculous schlock. And because it makes no assertions of being good – and makes no apologies for being bad – you know exactly what you’re getting when you sit down to view it. And for that, people appreciate it; people watch it; people enjoy it. Now, the fin-fueled storm system has broken out of its celluloid format and “crossed over” with a comic series that is itself delightfully random and surreal: Archie Andrews and his crew from Riverdale.
Archie is the fictional, prototypical “all-American” teenager, first appearing in comic-book form all the way back in 1941, in Pep Comics #22. (Fun fact: the Pep Comics series has several other claims to fame in addition to the first appearance of Archie, including: the first “patriotic” hero, The Shield, who predated Captain America by over a year; and the first superhero to die, The Comet.) Since his debut, the perpetual-seventeen-year-old has starred in over 10,000 newspaper strip and comic issues (seriously – with over 2 billion total copies sold!), six animated television shows, a radio show that ran for 10 years, and a live-action TV movie (Google it, it’ll blow your mind). He’s been a super-hero (Captain Pureheart, natch), sang a Billboard #1 hit song (believe it or not, the 1969 song “Sugar, Sugar” was an original creation for his band, The Archies), and has recently been fighting the undead zombie menace in a spinoff series, Afterlife with Archie. In addition to all this, he’s also lately had the chance to “meet” such other pop culture icons as President Obama, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, KISS, the cast of “Glee,” and even the ultimate Marvel Comics vigilante killing machine, the Punisher.
Knowing all this, then, makes the idea of Archie vs. Sharknado not seem quite as far-fetched as one might immediately think. Sharknado screenwriter Anthony C. Ferrante is wisely given the writing duties on this one-shot comic, as likely only he can effectively handle the absurd things that characters have to say when faced with a whirring, water-predator-infested weather pattern. Dan Parent and Rick Koslowski, regular artists on the “Archie” series, are given the task of visually bringing the madness to life, and their pairing of the very classic, wholesome-style drawing that’s now synonymous with Archie Comics is the absurdly-perfect counterbalance to the crazy goings-on the characters have to endure within this comic’s pages.
The story is genius in its simplicity: taking place at the same time as the events shown in the recently-released Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No!, the action opens in Washington, D.C., where teen gal-pals Betty and Veronica accompany Veronica’s father to some sort of shark-weather summit. The storm is literally brewing on the horizon, and after the biting winds take their destructive toll on the most famous landmarks in the nation’s capital, the girls have to high-tail it back to Riverdale to help save their hometown – and also, of course, to see which gal will get to go with Archie to the big school dance. Hilarity, mayhem, and many severed limbs ensue.
If you’re not familiar with the Sharknado universe, this book may not be the best place for you to start; it jumps right in to the existing “universe” and goes full-throttle with the madcap action from the first page all the way to the last. The death and destruction is rampant in this story, but it’s all done in a very tongue-in-cheek approach, so seeing classic characters’ bodies ripped in half and witnessing the fresh-faced teens impaling sharks with any and all sharp objects they can get their hands on never feels too “down and dirty.” Much like the recently-completed mini-series Archie vs. Predator – Hells yes, that’s a real thing, and I’ll be reviewing it here very soon – the story creators never take themselves too seriously with these crossovers, and that’s what makes this comic a truly enjoyable tale.
The Archie folks are absolutely hitting home runs with their zany crossover tales, and Archie vs. Sharknado is no exception. Here’s hoping that our red-headed hero butts heads with more oddly-coupled characters in the not-too-distant future – I’m holding out hope for Archie vs. Judge Dredd to be announced any day now!