Category: Fantasy Realms


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s not an overstatement to say Francesco Francavilla is the artist who brought Archie Comics back to life.  At the very least he has turned a new generation of readers onto one of comicdom’s longest lasting titles.  Along with Jon Goldwater and Alex Segura behind the scenes and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and later artist Robert Hack in the pages of the monthly books, it was Francavilla’s haunting, brand new look at Riverdale and its teen characters that kick-started reader interest in new titles and take another look at the classic stories, the ones with the traditional Dan DeCarlo look that 70 years of readers were familiar with.  Francavilla, the Eisner Award-winning cover artist, is the focus of a new hardcover book Archie Comics is premiering this Wednesday.  Featuring all of his Archie Comics standard covers and variants, plus selected interior artwork and cover artwork for books outside the Archie universe, The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla is a must for collectors of his books and neo-pulp styled art prints.

In part because of his use of fantastic colors for his imagery, his designs seem to pop on every page.  You’ll find his several covers for Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vampironica, Jughead the Hunger, Archie Meets Batman, Archie vs Sharknado, Archie vs Predator, Chilling Adventures in Sorcery, Riverdale, Life with Archie, Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, and Josie and the Pussycats.  Other pages highlight Francavilla’s style on the covers of New Crusaders, The Black Hood, and The Hangman.  The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla also includes some cover and page roughs–preliminary sketches used for approval and story breaking, all shown along with the final versions.  You’ll also find exclusive cover art from convention-only covers and other variants.

Woule we have a Riverdale television series if not for Francavilla’s darker look at Archie?  Probably not.  Here is a first look at some advance preview pages of The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla for borg readers courtesy of Archie Comics:

Continue reading

Stepping into the void left between seasons of Stranger Things, Netflix will be releasing a new television series from the creators of Riverdale that could be the next big thing for comic book, horror–and Stranger Things–fans.  Ten episodes of a live-action adaptation of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s fantastic macabre Archie Horror comic book series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (we’ve talked about the comic book series a lot here at borg.com) will be arriving just in time for Halloween.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars The Legend of Korra’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, with some well-known genre actors: The Lord of the Rings and War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto (Zelda), Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis (Hilda), Doctor Who and Gotham’s Michelle Gomez (Mary Wardell), Beverly Hills Cop and Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot (George Hawthorne), and Prince of Persia’s Richard Coyle (Father Blackwood), with Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Adeline Rudolph (Agatha), Abigail Cowen (Dorcas), and Lachlan Watson (Susie).  Netflix provided a sneak peek at the new Sabrina and Salem the cat, too.

Don’t worry, it’s not a reboot of the 1990s television series.  Initially couched as two five-episode seasons, the updated news is that Netflix viewers will get all ten first-season episodes at once, and IMDb lists 20 episodes in the works total.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will draw from the comic book series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack, detailing the compelling and shocking re-imagining of Sabrina’s occult origins.  This dark coming-of-age story deals with horror and witchcraft and will see Sabrina struggle to reconcile her dual nature of being half-witch and half-mortal while protecting her family and the world from the forces of evil.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

The most twists and turns, the most clever story arcs, and the most faithful adaptation of a comic book series you’ve seen so far.  After a great first season but a ho-hum sophomore season, the creators of the third season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina kicked every aspect of the show into high gear, making for the best season of any series so far on the streaming provider (yep, including that first season of Stranger Things).  So often it’s easy to binge watch every new series.  But the best you reserve to savor, and each episode of the third season was like a good movie.  More magic, more of the supernatural, and more gold nuggets from centuries of folklore took these established characters and made them shine in exciting new ways, giving us the rare third season that bettered earlier seasons.  Great characters, great stories, great actors, and great writing as the witches of Greendale must fend off an attack by pagans that could mean the end for them and the mortals over eight action-packed episodes.  The season should put the series on anyone’s contender for best series of the year, even if we are only at February–it’s probably Netflix’s most riveting season of programming so far.

Has anyone done this before?  I’m talking about Robert Aguirre-Sacasa.  From the pages of Archie Comics, in 2014 Aguirre-Sacasa took Sabrina Spellman, a 50-year-old supporting character, and with a lot of love and dedication, and the visuals of artist Robert Hack, made her relevant for comic book readers in a new millennium in the pages of Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  Then he took her story to television and created a hit show to match, and kept it going for three seasons (with a fourth season due by year end).  Has any comic book series received this expert an adaptation and a singular champion of a classic character?

In front of the camera, Kiernan Shipka owns her title character and performs at the level of an actress who’s been doing it for 25 years.  Stunningly confident, she carries a swagger when called for as if Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwarzenegger or some other big movie star’s badass character walked onto the set.  Viewers believe her because she knows this character, able to flip from several versions of a put-upon, angsty high school teen to a genuine leader, fierce manipulator, and ferocious force to be reckoned with–even the forces of evil know to stay out of her way.

Continue reading

She’s beautiful.  She’s deadly.  She’s Vampironica.

Next year Archie Comics’ Archie Horror imprint is adding a new title to its dark universe of stories that began with Riverdale television series writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Afterlife with Archie, then continued in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and this year’s Jughead: The Hunger.  The new monthly series Vampironica will focus on Betty’s forever frenemie Veronica when she’s bitten by a vampire and becomes the latest to join the undead of Riverdale.  Her path will be inspired by classic horror films.

“I’d say that our biggest influences are American Werewolf in London and Fright Night.  Both films can be quite horrific but there’s also a lot of strong characterization and humor to them,” said artist and co-writer Greg Smallwood.  “I think horror works best with a small dose of comedy for levity so we’ve used the same formula on Vampironica.”

“Vampironica humanizes Veronica in a way that only horror can,” adds co-writer Megan Smallwood.  “Becoming a vampire is a humbling experience for her and she’s forced to open up and expose a little vulnerability.  “Veronica Lodge is not the kind of girl to join any ranks, let alone vampire ranks.  True to form, Veronica instead relies on her own gut-instincts.  They haven’t let her down in life and they won’t let her down as she navigates the surreal world of the undead.”

Continue reading

Initially we figured the new Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina would merely fill the void left between seasons of Stranger Things, but this week’s teaser preview looks like the creators of Riverdale may touch on a look and feel from one of the all-time greatest television shows.  You, too, may also feel the vibe of horror similar to the greatest of all teen coming-of-age series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer But you might miss the details even if you don’t blink (like levitating or hanged witches, Sabrina entering a blue portal to another world, the above image of Sabrina entering the woods, and more).  Netflix has sneakily dropped in several brief scene images that look 100% Buffy the Vampire Slayer, including a Hellmouth-esque beast that could have come from the mind of Joss Whedon (and those three nasty characters seem to be from the same realm as the Gentlemen from the episode “Hush”).  How many times have we seen an image of Buffy readying to face demons on her now-classic TV show just like Sabrina in the above image?  At a minimum the new series may make up for the absence of another great horror series we miss, Grimm Ten episodes of the series will be arriving just in time for Halloween.  And along with the teaser, a new poster is out, echoing Sabrina’s 16th birthday as seen in the teaser, all pointing toward a decision to commit to the coven or not, which Sabrina will soon face.

If you peruse most of the entertainment websites over the past several hours you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone mentioning the comic book series the show is based on.  Even comic book sites are still dwelling on comparing this to the 1990s comedy version.  Sabrina was created for Archie Comics 56 years ago by writer George Gladir and artist Dan DeCarlo, and if you’ve been reading borg.com very long (like coverage here) you’re already familiar with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack’s fantastically macabre series of the same name published under the Archie Horror imprint.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is based on the characters in the comic book series, detailing the compelling and, yes, chilling, re-imagining of Sabrina’s occult origins–not any of the several TV adaptations–mostly comedies–that have aired.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars The Legend of Korra’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, with some well-known genre actors: The Lord of the Rings and War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto (Zelda), Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis (Hilda), Doctor Who and Gotham’s Michelle Gomez (Mary Wardell), Beverly Hills Cop and Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot (George Hawthorne), and Prince of Persia’s Richard Coyle (Father Blackwood), with Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Adeline Rudolph (Agatha), Abigail Cowen (Dorcas), and Lachlan Watson (Susie).  That’s Salem the cat sneaking around at the end of the teaser, and yes, we hear series star Kiernan Shipka is allergic to cats, so we’ll have fun watching how the show films them both together this season.

Check out all of these scene images that you may have missed, followed by the full teaser:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

It had a promising first and third season, twists and turns, clever story arcs, and a contender for the most faithful adaptation of a comic book series from the past decade.  The creators of the fourth and final season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina gave 2020 a much-needed batch of two complete seasons, and we already gave the third season kudos in the 2020 Best of TV review here at borg.  Kiernan Shipka proved to be one of TV’s best young actors, embodying a character that is next in line after Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, and Liv Moore as young genre heroines who led series you can count on the first time and after re-watches.  Already a contender for one of the best TV series of this century, and one of Netflix’s most creative efforts, how did the final season fare for our heroine Sabrina Spellman?

Continue reading

   

If you loved CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we did, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Earlier this year Archie Comics’ Archie Horror imprint–the folks that brought us the brilliant otherworld series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina–took Jughead to a dark place and asked: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?  The result was the one-shot comic book issue, Jughead: The Hunger. 

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) teamed-up and delivered a new Jughead whose ancestry was full of werewolves.  Unknown to most of his friends, Jughead was the “Riverdale Ripper,” murdering townies one by one, including poor Miss Grundy.  But the biggest surprise was Betty Cooper, who hailed from a line of werewolf hunters.  Where we last left Archie and his friends, Jughead had left town.  And Betty was on his trail.

    

Usually one-shots hit the comic book stores, maybe get a reprint.  But this week Archie’s new Madhouse imprint revealed the surprise return of Jughead: The Hunger as a new ongoing series.  “We purposely left the door open with the one-shot, we told you if you made Jughead: The Hunger a hit we’d make more– and since you more than held up your end of the bargain– here we are,” said writer Frank Tieri.  “Fans can expect more of everything they loved about the one shot now as we expand our universe–more werewolf Juggie, more bad ass Betty, more conflicted Archie and more twists and turns than you can shake a severed arm at.”

Continue reading

If you’re enjoying CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we are, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Actually we wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into the back of the joint on the television series since he lost his home at the drive-in theater, which recently closed.  This month Archie Comics is taking Jughead to a dark place and asks: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?

When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family’s dark legacy comes to light. 

It’s Jughead: The Hunger.  It’s a story that will be a prime target for fans of the successful and popular series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

   

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) team-up for an oversized Archie Horror one-shot.  Check out this preview courtesy of Archie Comics:

Continue reading

Surprisingly CW’s Riverdale not only teased the answer to the show’s big mystery in last night’s penultimate episode–instead of dragging viewers into a season finale cliffhanger–it delivered the goods.  The result is a tightly written, highly watchable and addictive first season that will stand alone as an example of how to get your characters and plot right from the very beginning, and a easy watch for new viewers wanting to jump on for Season Two.

Satisfaction.  Above all else, it’s what matters to the viewing audience.  Writers can throw twists and plenty of shock and awe onto the screen, but if they cannot tie up all the loose ends without a deus ex machina event or similar trickery, viewers won’t come back for the second season.  How many opening seasons of series give the audience enough interest to keep watching, yet they are full of ups and downs, episodes that don’t quite work, too many red herrings, and tangled plot threads that seemed to be stuffed into the show for filler?  Heroes, Lost, and Twin Peaks garnered immediate cult followings, yet they dragged the big secrets out until we just didn’t care anymore.

How few television series have been as tightly written as Riverdale?  CW’s other comic book adaptations weren’t this good in their freshman year–Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, CBS’s Supergirl–none created a finely stitched together bookend set of episodes that will be fun to watch again and again once they arrive at Netflix or other streaming services.  Riverdale took an idea: adapting a classic, 75-year-old, well-known set of characters from a beloved comic book, added in that comic book’s own modern updates from the recent past, and then gave it a dark twist.  Both Twin Peaks and the look and feel of Archie Comics’ own dark title Afterlife With Archie are owed plenty of credit, along with a great story writing team and a top-notch cast.

You’ll need to watch the series for yourself to discover who killed the Laura Palmer of Riverdale, Jason Blossom.  In fact you’ll think you have it all figured out until the big reveal at the end of last night’s episode, “Anatomy of a Murder.”  But you’ll probably be wrong.

Continue reading

archie-co

In the latest ads for CW’s new teen series Riverdale, the live-action series looks even more like an updated Twin Peaks than in the initial teaser trailer.  CW’s television adaptation of the 75-year-old Archie Comics characters and hometown is only weeks away.  More and more we’re thinking the series has the look and feel of the Archie Comics’ recent successful expanded universe in its Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series.  Let’s face it–if the new television series really were to look like the monthly comic book, which has run relatively unchanged for its 75-year span, it would basically be a remake of Happy Days. 

However CW’s Riverdale turns out, our fingers remain crossed that we’ll see the infamous Sabrina drop in as a guest star or that the writers will find a way to incorporate at least a good Halloween episode.  Zombies, anyone?  Another classic franchise family, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, are getting their own update next year when Dynamite Comics releases a new monthly series adaptation with a noir, true crime twist: Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.  The common theme seems to be bringing back the classics, but trying to spin them in a way to make them appeal to current audiences, which is nothing really new as adaptations go.

riverdale-sign

The first full-length trailer and a second teaser for Riverdale were both released this week. Every classic property should get the CW teen soap opera treatment like Riverdale and Smallville and all the great DC Comics series currently running.  The shows may not be entirely loyal to the source materials, but you can bank on some interesting characters and well-told stories ahead.

Check out this first extended trailer for Riverdale:

Continue reading