By Alex Segura
What peeked my interest in ‘Archie Meets Kiss’, wasn’t the fact that my father named me after Veronica Lodge (true story) so I have a biased love for Archie Comics already, but because it was Archie (of all characters) meeting Kiss! Within the comic book world, Archie comics is considered the safe, family/kid friendly book…then there’s Kiss who while not strangers to comic books (they not only had their own comic book, but their first comic book appearance was in Marvel’s Howard the Duck in 1977) doesn’t seem to necessarily fit in the Archie-verse at first glance, but one big comparison of the two immediately came to mind: Seduction of the Innocent!
In 1953/1954, the book titled ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ was printed, in which parents were warned that comic books were a negative form of popular literature and could lead to a serious case of juvenile delinquency amongst the children that read comic books. Thus causing comic book writers/publishers to voluntarily enforce the Comics Code Authority to self-censor their titles. Whereas in the 1970’s Kiss had parents and religious groups against them, claiming they painted their faces like demons (well, one did), and that their music was the sound of the devil. While Kiss didn’t enforce any kind of “code” like the comic book industry did, there was just as much backlash on Kiss from parents as there was to comic books in the mid-1950’s, which were corrupting the pure minds of the youth of America. We all know that the band Kiss is like a harmless little Labradoodle NOW, but I still found it interesting that Kiss appears in an Archie comic of all places, a comic book that is practically the environment in which un-corrupted youth of America lie. Had this happened in the 70‘s, the shock of it would be comparable to having Marilyn Manson in a Mickey Mouse cartoon in the 90‘s! Oh the insanity! But what led these rock n’ roll idols into the sweet suburbs of Riverdale?
Well, the answer to the question is given away in the first page…I am not kidding. Instead of letting the question be answered in what would’ve been about page 10 or 11, they tell you in the first panel of the first page that ‘Kiss is in Riverdale by accident because of a spell gone awry by Sabrina the teenage witch’…and that alone didn’t make me want to continue reading the book. The chase was gone; my fascination as to why Kiss was there died in the FIRST PANEL OF THE FIRST PAGE! My whole comparison of ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ and Kiss is null and void (but it sounded good)! And of course Kiss had to be in Riverdale for some weird mystical reason, God forbid a rock band showed up to simply put on a concert in sweet lil’ ole Riverdale!
Apparently, Veronica and Reggie missed out on a ‘Riverdale Monster Meeting’ held by the gang and Sabrina (really?) and can’t participate in a protection spell for all of Riverdale against monsters on Halloween (because, ya know these things happen so often right). Veronica and Reggie are so upset that they can’t participate that they decide to do a spell of their own to show Sabrina how easy it is using an old spell book that Veronica’s father just happens to have in his library…(oh yeah, totally normal for a millionaire to have spell books in his library). While Sabrina casts the protection spell, Veronica jumps in to cast her own, but casts a projection spell instead, thus causing Sabrina’s original spell to reverse and create a portal, so now there are monsters in Riverdale (a super smart Frankenstein’s monster, a dimwitted Mummy, a super-cool vampire, and an emo Rockabilly vampire). Enter Kiss through the same portal, summoned by the emergence of the monsters. The monsters prey on teenagers and take away all of their fun, causing them & their town to be boring, essentially turning them into mindless ‘zombies’. Kiss has the ability to get rid of the monsters with the power of rock n’ roll (of course).
I KNOW it is an Archie comic, and I KNOW it’s all meant for fun but just BLAH! I was really looking forward to reading this trade paperback, but after the first page it felt like a chore. The fact that they gave away the answer to ‘why is Kiss in Riverdale’ in the first panel of the first page made me not want to read it because THAT was the whole point as to WHY I was reading it in the first place! I could care less at that point about them being there to get rid of monsters and how, I wanted to know why they were there in the first place and BOOM! you give me the answer in the first panel of the first page! While giving the answer away in the first page of a comic then using flashbacks to begin the tale works in some comics, it did not work with this one at all. When you open a comic book with that writing strategy being implemented and already know the ‘how’ there has to be enough interest to continue reading the book to find out the ‘why’. Plus, the fact that Kiss was in Riverdale to get rid of monsters made me not want to read anymore either. I am a Kiss fan, I am also an Archie fan, so why couldn’t Kiss had shown up for a concert with The Archies or with Josie & The Pussycats? Or is that just too risky for an Archie comic? So in other words: Kiss performing as a band normally in the sweet suburbs of Riverdale is not acceptable, but teenage witchcraft is? Got it.
On the back cover of the book are quick blurb reviews from notable reviewers like IGN, CNN, MTV Geek, USA Today, saying this book is “thoroughly entertaining”, “a fun book”, “Archie has never rocked harder”, and “delightful, when did Archie Comic become essential reading?” Did they read what I read? I read this book for fun, for my love of Archie Comics & Kiss and did not feel ANY of what those reviews said. It’s not because I’m used to reading more serious story-telling, it was because it was too quick to give away the answer, the answer wasn’t interesting enough to make me care about the rest of the story, and the story as a whole was by no means original. It all seemed to me like the very first Family Guy Christmas Episode, in which Peter Griffin is watching ‘Kiss Saves Christmas’ and there’s only one way to kill a pterodactyl and that’s with rock n’ roll.
One thing that REALLY bugged me though, is that Archie Comics are geared towards kids, (though I know a lot of adults, myself included that read the Archie Comics) which is fine. However, if that is the case, maybe the writers should take that into consideration because all Reggie did in the entire book was call Jughead & Dilton (the smart one) nerds, lame, losers, etc. I get it, Reggie is the “cool” guy that hangs out with the gang for some strange reason, but c’mon. Reggie isn’t being funny about it either, he is blatantly verbally bullying these two throughout the entire book! Why the frak would you do that in a kids comic book? It’s not like Reggie bullies them but Jughead & Dilton stand up to him! NO! They let it slide; they keep him around as a friend! What is that teaching the kids that read these books?! Sure Reggie was always known to do that in the comic books, but times have changed drastically, while that was ‘funny’ back then is no longer funny, bullying has become a big issue as of late! Maybe I’m thinking too much of it, maybe I’m having flashbacks of my days being called a nerd before it was a compliment, but it really bothered me.
The best part of the book for me were 2 things:
1-the sketchbook by artist Dan Parent at the very end of the book, in which you see early blue & gray pencils sketches of covers and panels, only one or two of which ended up being used, and 2-the jabs at teenagers/people in general being mindless drones by only being on cell phones nowadays, and the fact that the vampire was personified as a jab on the Twilight guy being super emo. If for nothing else, this is a good trade paperback to have in any Kiss fans collection, solely for the purpose of collecting anything Kiss related that Kiss puts out with their ‘Spaceballs The Movie’ view on merchandising.
1 out of 5 nerds