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Josie and the Pussycats: Volume One (Archie Comics, 2016; #1-5)

I keep thinking about this one line from Josie and the Pussycats. It’s a quip that Melody makes when a dangling plot thread—which an earlier editorial box described as, “Definitely not a Chekhov’s gun”—comes back into play. “Who fired Chekhov’s gun?!” she asks. “Was it Konstantin again?”

In this innocuous aside lives the entire drama of Anton Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavski’s tense professional relationship and conflict over the necessity of gun violence onstage*. It is also a perfect representation of the unabashedly meta, snarky, smart sense of humor that immediately hooked me on Josie and the Pussycats. Bennett, DeOrdio, and Mok cram every laugh onto the page that they can.

That humor alone would be worth the price of admission, but Bennett and DeOrdio do an excellent job of working in character beats and moments of emotional growth. Josie, while charming and likable, is self-absorbed. She tends to go for whatever she wants without thinking about her friends. She’s her own greatest obstacle to success. The ways in which Josie, Valerie, and Melody have to navigate human failures makes the trio feel like real, flawed people rather than dated character types.

Audrey Mok’s lines and Andrew Szymancwicz and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors balance a classic vibe (or, at least, Josie and the Pussycats cartoon-inspired vibe) but with contemporary style. Their work is clean and vivid and fits the fun tone of Bennett and DeOrdio’s writing. But Mok’s layouts shine as they make action-heavy pages, flashbacks, and montage scenes feel dynamic.

I’m a fan of the entire revamped Archie line, and Josie and the Pussycats is my favorite of its offerings. Bennett and DeOrdio’s writing is lithe and funny; and Mok, Szymancwicz, and Fitzpatrick’s art is vibrant and energetic. It’s worth checking out.

* This has nothing to do with the comic beyond this one joke, but Chekhov actually hated the obligation of firing a gun onstage. With each successive play he wrote, he moved the gunfire further away from its action. In The Cherry Orchard, the only gunshot happens offstage. Tragically, he died before he could get away with writing a play without a gunshot at all.

Collected in

  • Josie and the Pussycats, Volume One (#1-5, Jughead #9)


Writers: Marguerite Bennett, Cameron DeOrdio | Artist: Audrey Mok | Colorists: Andre Szymancwicz (1), Kelly Fitzpatrick (2-5) | Letterer: Jack Morelli | Designer: Kari MacLachlan | Editors: Alex Segura, Mike Pellerito | Associate Editor: Stephen Oswald | Assistant Editor: Jamie Lee Rotante

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