I’m currently sitting in an elementary school gym, typing away on my phone’s wordpress app, waiting for the chorus to come out and perform their spring concert. Selections include “Payphone” by Maroon 5 and “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. Things have really changed since I was a kid and the craziest we ever got was singing a song from Pippen or a medley of commercial jingles. But I digress.
I read two great graphic novels, thanks to my Cannonball friends, and want to tell everyone how great they were.
First off, I read Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale.
To be honest, I had little memory of what Archie comics were all about. When I was a kid, I maybe got an Archie comic in my Christmas stocking, or watched the old Archies cartoon on weekends (they had a band? And sang “Sugar Sugar?) But I don’t remember much about Riverdale other than everybody loved Archie, including two beautiful girls — Betty and Veronica. He had a friend named Jughead, and he drove an old fashioned car that I think they called a jalopy.
But really, you don’t need to know much more about Riverdale than that to enjoy this graphic novel.
It starts off ominously. Poor Jughead, his dog has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, so he calls his friend Sabrina, the teenage witch. Against the orders of her aunts, she helps her pal out, and unsurprisingly, it doesn’t go very well. Poor Hot Dog is now a member of the barking dead, and things go from bad to worse very quickly.
From a zombie outbreak at a high school Halloween dance to seeing our gang holed up in a fortified mansion, we see just how quickly the entire town is decimated by the zombies. We see friends and family, teachers and coaches, and even pets die violently, and come back to life, thirsty for brains.
Yeah, I still don’t get what’s so special about Archie, but he did have a few nice moments here. Daring to leave the mansion, he tries to find and rescue his parents. He isn’t 100% successful, and we really feel his pain. He also has a heartbreaking flashback to the time his parents bought him a puppy, and it’s really quite effective.
The gang decides to seek shelter elsewhere, and we leave them trudging through town, attempting to sneak out without attracting the attention of any more undead. Easier said than done, for sure. Especially when there may be someone infected in their group…
I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future issues of this story. I really didn’t expect it to be as strong as it was, really a powerful addition to the zombie genre.
Right on the heels of Archie, I read the fantastic Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.
I have to tell you, I wasn’t that fired up for this one, but picked it up solely because of strong Cannonball reviews. I loved this book. I’m buying a copy of my own and giving it to Bunnybean to show her that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, in all colors and religions, can be any age, and can be any gender.
In this case, our unsuspecting hero is a teenage girl in New Jersey named Kamala Khan. Kamala’s family is from Pakistan, and they are fairly devout Muslims. Kamala rarely goes out at night with friends, unless it’s to an event approved by her mosque. She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t smoke, she doesn’t date. She’s a good girl. She spends much of her time writing Avengers fan fiction and hanging out with her friend Bruno who works at the convenience store down the street.
And then, one night, everything changes, and she finds herself in possession of some strange powers and abilities. She doesn’t understand them at first and isn’t quite sure how to manage her sudden ability to grow to super size, shrink to the size of a bug, or use her giant hand like a hammer. And while sorting all of this newness out, she makes mistakes. A lot of them.
But she learns from them, and never does she stop being Kamala. What’s important to Kamala is also important to her new persona, the re-born Ms Marvel. Kamala loves her family, and wants to do right by them, but also realizes that her new powers are something bigger than she every dreamed of, more of a burden than she could have possibly imagined.
Kamala is awesome, and I hope every young girl disappointed by what Disney/Marvel has done with Black Widow hears about this book and reads it. This is the hero we’ve been waiting for.