Blossoms 666 #1: The Devil Came Down to Riverdale

blossoms 666

Blossoms 666 #1

Laura Braga (artist), Cullen Bunn (writer), Matt Herms (colorist), Jack Morelli (letterer)
Archie Comics
January 23, 2019

At long last, the gnarled hand of the Archie Horror imprint knocks on the door of the Blossom mansion; the line that made Veronica a vampire, Jughead a werewolf, and Sabrina a, well, witch, has a similar dark destiny for rich kids Cheryl and Jason in Blossoms 666. The Blossom twins have always been hellions, but now they’re hellions.

Cover for Blossoms 666 - Cheryl in a red cloak looks over her shoulder at the viewer, while behind her Jason scowls in a white scarf against a background of dark green trees

Not that you’d know at first glance. Blossoms 666 #1 by Cullen Bunn and Laura Braga introduces us to a Cheryl and Jason who are seemingly the darlings of Riverdale High. Cheryl defends Dilton Doiley from Reggie Mantle’s bullying and encourages him to be more confident, and Jason vouches for Jughead’s honor when Miss Grundy threatens to fail him over a missing term paper. Jason in particular is such a teacher’s pet that he leaves a shiny new apple on Grundy’s desk—and yet the next time we see an apple, it’s crawling with worms.

Yes, there’s a smell of rot underneath the Blossoms’ sickly-sweet fragrance. The premise, explained more concisely on the back cover than in the first issue itself, is that one of the twins is the Anti-Christ, and Cheryl and Jason are in a fierce competition to claim the title. This, of course, makes them perfect hosts for a pool party with lots of unsupervised teenage drinking and an emotionally-charged game of Truth or Dare. What could possibly go wrong?

Fans of the southern gothic comic series Harrow County know that writer Cullen Bunn is no stranger to tackling small town supernatural horror, and Blossoms 666 hits the right note of quiet unease on its first page. No scene encapsulates the appeal of this book better than the twins’ utterly nonplussed reaction to finding their parents in the middle of a Satanic ritual, complete with heavy black robes and goblets of blood. “We live in Riverdale,” Cheryl sighs. “Nothing new and exciting ever happens.” The mundanity of suburbia may be the real evil here.

And yet… as much as I am onboard with the idea of this comic, the choices in iconography—the apple, the black robes, the pentagrams—feel too predictable, especially when draped over a setting that’s as archetypal as Riverdale. Blossoms 666 needs to distinguish itself from the other books in the Archie Horror imprint and carve out its own identity—in Dilton’s soft flesh, if need be. I’m hoping for some really nasty surprises in future issues, since unlike the leads in Vampironica and Jughead: The Hunger, the Blossoms are choosing their monstrousness for themselves.

But it’s easy to fall under Cheryl and Jason’s spell in a book this beautiful. Under artist Laura Braga’s pen, both Blossoms are drawn with the kind of irresistible charm that can only be described as “too good to be true.” (Aside: it’s pretty weird that “horny for her students” is just, like, Miss Grundy’s thing now.) There is also a touch of Riverdale in the way the kids are styled, from Veronica’s string of pearls to Jughead’s oh-so-brushable bangs. As for the Blossoms’ most famous features, colorist Matt Herms makes their hair a shockingly vivid red, the color of blood in a giallo movie; compared to the earthy tones of the rest of the cast, the Blossoms are decidedly unearthly.

With its “The Omen meets Mean Girls” premise, Blossoms 666 #1 is a devilish debut. I hope that future issues take Cheryl and Jason in twisted new directions, because hey, redheads have more fun anyway. Once again, Archie Horror proves that high school is hell.

Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.