Those picking up a copy of Archie #627 hoping for an Archies vs. KISS "Battle of the Bands" or even a story of KISS mentoring the Archies in Heavy Metal music are going to be disappointed. After their impressive appearance on the opening splashpage, KISS disappears for nine pages, then reappears for four and a half, then disappears for the rest of the issue.
(That's what some readers will want to know.)
Despite being billed as a KISS story, this opening chapter is really a Sabrina the teenage witch story. Instead of being a story about rock bands, this opening chapter is a fun supernatural romp that hints at the idea of music saving the day. Sort of a magical Black Heaven for tweens.
With "Riverdale Rock City" writer Alex Segura firmly re-establishes Sabrina as part of the Riverdale gang and makes them aware of her powers. She's actually the catalyst for the magical mayhem as it's her desire to protect the town from monsters that sets things in motion. Unfortunately a jealous Veronica causes the spell to go awry. That's when KISS shows up.
Though this issue is mainly setup for the four-part series, there is some good character interaction. Segura, rather intentionally or not, mirrors the dynamics of the early seasons of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Dilton can be seen as the mentoring Giles character. Betty takes Willow's tech-researcher part, while Archie is a pre-werewolf Oz. Jughead is the wise-cracking Xander. Veronica is early Cordelia and Reggie is her flunky Harmony, though he'd probably prefer to think of himself as hunky Angel. Sabrina, unsure of herself but doing what needs to be done, is, of course, Buffy.
(Riverdale meet Sunnydale)
One of the particularly noticeable things this issue in the art department is Sabrina's body language. Of all the characters in the issue, artists Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski seem to have caught the sense of actual movement best with her. Whether she's sitting
there's a feeling of dynamism to her that's very eye-catching. Other panels that have a strong sense of movement to them are the one in which Reggie leans against a bookcase while Veronica throws books around
and one showing Archie and Sabrina walking together. The issue's final page also has some great body language on display.
Another thing Parent and Koslowski do this issue is play with panel borders and effects. As expected, there are plenty of flames in evidence whenever KISS is on panel, but Parent also gives Sabrina's narration captions a flame like look. Panels where magic is in use or being discussed can be either jagged or smoothly spiraling. This design trick makes those panels pop off the page, giving them more importance to the narrative.
Digikore Studios' colors are clean and never obscure the art. In one of the most effective panels in the book, four characters are shown completely in shadow against a background that shades from goldenrod to burnt umber. The black shadows are edged with gray, giving them definition, a sense of mass and a feeling of menacing power.
Budding fans of paranormal romance, those who remember the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with fondness, and fans of Archie Comics own Archie's Weird Mysteries are going to enjoy Archie #627.
For the past 13 years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine's unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.