From the paneled pictures of your darkest dreams, this is Graphic. Every month, I’ll be telling you about the best horror in comic books, from the early days of EC Comics to the resurgence of the genre in today’s mainstream and indie publishers. So pull up your blanket, dear reader, switch on your flashlight, and turn the page…
There’s an Archie Horror comic for fans of every subgenre. Want a gothic, supernatural romance? Try Vampironica on for size. An alien invasion thriller? There’s Archie Vs. Predator. But since it’s “Hot as Hell” month here at Nightmare on Film Street, this edition of Graphic is going to focus on Archie’s entry into the satanic brand of horror, Blossoms 666. Evoking the unholy rites and hooded cults of 1970s satanic cinema, Blossoms 666 is a taut, dramatic story of a cursed lineage in an idyllic town. No matter what subgenre of horror you call your favorite, its a story you’re damned sure to enjoy.
Everyone loves Cheryl and Jason Blossom. Their classmates are mesmerized by their good looks; their teachers are charmed by their maturity and good manners. Even Riverdale’s sheriff seems to take a special liking toward them. And that’s exactly what Cheryl and Jason need, as would-be heirs to the Throne of Hell.
Yes, one of the Blossoms is the antichrist. It’s a fact they’ve known all their lives, taught to them by their cultist parents. What they don’t know is which of them will take the infernal crown. To decide, Cheryl and Jason have been competing to corrupt the most innocent citizens of their perfect little town. Now, their sinister sibling rivalry is reaching its hottest point, and when a secret family member show up to stake his own claim, Cheryl and Jason will have to unleash Hell to get what they want.
To tell this story, the good folks at Archie have put together a team that’s nothing short of legendary. First on the credits page is writer Cullen Bunn. Bunn is a titan of horror comics, with titles like Harrow County, Dark Ark, The Bone Parish and many, many more to his name. Bunn differentiates Blossoms 666 from the rest of Archie Horror by keeping the story subtle and slow, favoring a creeping dread over the indulgent gore in Jughead: The Hunger. And though there’s still some classic Archie humor, Bunn’s script takes itself pretty seriously, especially in how he portrays Cheryl and Jason‘s relationship. They are both locked in mortal combat and the best of friends, which makes for excellent drama. Even if this wasn’t a Riverdale book, their relationship would carry a horror story all the way to the top of a best-seller list.
On the art for Blossoms 666 is Laura Braga, who proves that brilliant horror art doesn’t always require a lot of monster designs. Braga’s art is wonderfully cinematic, framing Riverdale and its familiar citizens to build dramatic tension. Braga’s art is all about character; if you’ve never seen a facial expression that says “I love you and want to kill you” at the same time, you will in Blossoms 666. But for all the humanity she brings to this horror story, it’s not without a few monster designs. And when they show up, expect to be wowed.
Setting the mood for this devilish delight is colorist Matt Herms. Herms’s dark colors do so much for this book, from foreshadowing the doom that’s coming to certain characters to heightening the drama of the twists and cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. Plus, Herms does miracles with the color red throughout the book, signifying the Blossoms‘ signature hair color and their infernal birthright. Bringing the book home is letterer Jack Morelli, a veteran letterer whose work is seen across every major publisher. Like all great letterers, Morelli’s got a light touch, complimenting the art and composition of the panels.
Part of what makes any Archie Horror comic work is that the original Riverdale is the farthest thing from horror. It’s a a perfect, all-American suburb where nothing ever goes wrong, making it that much scarier when things actually do. That’s even more true when it comes to satanic horror, which is all about the corruption of innocence. If you think about it, something like Blossoms 666 was always going to exist eventually from Archie Comics, and it would have been good no matter what. Cheers to Archie for assembling a team to make it not just good, but excellent.
You can read Blossoms 666 on ComiXology Unlimited now. Once you do, let us know what you think of the comic by giving us a shoutout on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages. And after that, go ahead and drop me a line to let me know what other horror comics you’d like to see spotlighted in this column. For more satanic horror all August, and all the best horror discussion on the web, keep lurking at Nightmare on Film Street.