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“Josie & the Pussycats” #1 Review: The Cats are Back!

Anamaria Falcone ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The New Riverdale reboot continues its trend of success by providing readers with the much-needed backstory of our favorite all-female–cat-based band in their new series, Josie & the Pussycats. Fans love serial dater Archie Andrews, best frenemies Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, and, of course, apathetic overeater Jughead Jones—but they tend to forget there is a world outside of Riverdale High. Josie & the Pussycats gives fans of the New Riverdale a detour from the Archie-and-company drama with the story of how three girls from a small town achieved worldwide success.

All Josie wants to do is sing to a roaring crowd who will listen to her—but until then, she’s stuck performing solo at Riverdale bars to patrons who ignore her. Her self-esteem isn’t receiving any help from the verbal battery of ex-best-friend Alexandra Cabot, who lives to kick Josie while she’s down. Down on her luck, Josie finds a new optimism to cling to when a friend shows her a flyer from the local animal shelter soliciting bands to help perform for their charity benefit. It’s the perfect opportunity for Josie to take a real stage—but she knows she can’t do it alone. It takes some convincing, but soon enough, Josie’s roommate Melody and new friend from the animal shelter, Valerie, team up to share the stage and what they hope to be a successful charity event. Their new alliance is already put to the test, however, when Cabot attempts to steer Melody and Valerie against Josie at the event with some crafty convincing. What happened between Josie and Cabot that filled the latter with so much hate against the redheaded lead singer? That’s a story for another issue.    

Image Credit: Archie Comics
Image Credit: Archie Comics


Writers
Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio prove they know exactly how to write strong female characters in this issue debut of Josie. Josie is portrayed as more than a level-headed lead, Melody as more than just a “ditz,” and Valerie as more than a token African American backup singer. None of these girls are written to be perfect—a common fumble when writing female characters. No woman, no matter how strong, can persevere entirely on her own. Bennett and DeOrdio demonstrate this by showcasing the leads’ vulnerabilities: Josie gets discouraged that her dreams won’t come true, and realizes she can’t be alone in her endeavors as a singer. Melody is sensitive to people seeing her as merely a “ditz” because of her bubbly personality, despite her achievements. And Valerie discovers that she’s not content with being in the background when she has talent that should be recognized. Of course, all of these insecurities are pointed out by the antagonist, Cabot, another leading woman. But hey, who better to pinpoint the weaknesses of women than another woman, right? Even though readers have only seen the cruel side of Cabot, it’s safe to assume that there’s a reason behind all of her ill-will against Josie. So, readers would not be remiss to take a moment to thank Bennett and DeOrdio for writing female characters who are insecure in their perfections, but don’t let their flaws be their defining factors.

Artists Audrey Mok, Jack Morelli, and Andre Szymanowicz modernize Josie in a way that conveys the characters are no longer in 1960s Riverdale without shoving it in the reader’s faces. The difficulty with comics like Archie—wherein the characters stay the same as the world around them changes—-is to not add too many current references that will be seen as dated in the future. For example, using too many references to pop culture, technology, and so on. The only visual cue the audience gets that screams, “This is 2016!” is the subtle image of Melody looking through Tinder before her date—that’s it. It’s safe to say that Josie already has a promising future as a timeless story about a band of three friends trying to make it big in the music scene.

If readers are looking for female-centric story about friendship, and the ups and downs of musical success, they’ve picked up the right comic. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, DeOrdio states that he wants this comic to be “fun” for audiences to read, and specifically wants to capture the fun of “friendship and joy and music” in the new Josie adventures. And it’s safe to say that this has been achieved in the first thirty-two pages of this New Riverdale adventure. All fans can hope for now, with the projected success of Josie & the Pussycats, are a shoutout to the band’s success in the comic Archie’s Riverdale world, a possible cameo in the upcoming Riverdale series on the CW, and maybe another cult movie.

If Josie can dream big, so can we.

Rating: 10/10

Story by: Brian Augustyn

Art by: Humberto Ramos

Publisher: Archie Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

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