By Brad Sun. The Ramones were made to be in an Archie comic. Not literally, but almost. From their matching black biker jackets to their no-frills three minute anthems, the band was meticulously crafted by guitarist Johnny Ramone to be an iconic slice of rock and roll Americana. Well, that was the plan anyway. But mixed with a trashy punk attitude and their 100% genuine strangeness, The Ramones turned out to be something far more interesting than merely one of the greatest bands of all time. Equal parts authentic distillation of rebellious youthful spirit and kitschy snot-nosed farce, the cartoonishly crude quartet from Queens have left a mark on pop culture every bit as colorful and vital as Archie Andrews and his crew of forever young friends.
So it’s disappointing to see that Archie Meets Ramones has decided to portray the band as so damn normal. Gone is Johnny’s slouchy perpetual pout or Joey’s sickly scarecrow-like frame. Hell, these boys looks downright handsome! It’s hard to say whether this is the result of a misguided editorial decision or simply artist Giselé Lagacé’s inability to believably cartoonify the band members. Whatever the case, Archie and his friends fare far better. While still staying true to their classic designs, Lagacé modernizes the gang with a stylish manga-inspired touch. Coupled with the poppy vibrant colors provided by Digikore Studios and especially María Victoria Robado, the Riverdale friends look fresh, fun, and lively.
Sadly, the blandest thing in this book are the Ramones. In a comic all about the Archies learning how to be a better band, it’s strange to see the amateurs look so much more dynamic and interesting than the punk icons. While the Archies sing and play and emote on a cramped stage surrounded by an equally expressive audience, the Ramones are seen performing stiffly against a generic backdrop of uninspired color gradations.
On an even more basic level, the idea to portray The Ramones as rock royalty, especially before their first album is even released, is an unfortunate choice. In order for the Archies to be the scrappy underdogs of the narrative, The Ramones are forced into the role of the established mentors, not the weird grimy outcasts they ought to be. And while no one should realistically expect authentic punk ethos from an Archie comic, it’s telling that, aside from a few cheeky references, The Ramones could be seamlessly replaced by just about any other successful rock band in this comic. What a missed opportunity.
Script by Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg.
Art and Letters by Gisele Lagace.
Colors by María Victoria Robado and Digikore Studios.
4 out of 10