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Review: Josie and the Pussycats #9

Josie#9With maybe a few too many guest stars, a couple giant mechas, and a truly heartfelt ending,  Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio’s Josie and the Pussycats run wraps with okay guest art by Kelsey Shannon and flawless colors from Kelly Fitzpatrick. Most of the issue is a giant chase sequence featuring Josie, the Pussycats, and basically every character who has appeared in this comic chasing DJ Quiplo and the Doc Charles Gang, who have kidnapped their opener/sales saving guest stars the Archies.

My biggest issue with Josie #9 is Bennett and DeOrdio is dusting off a character or “forgotten friend” (Pepper), who hasn’t appeared since the first issue and making her almost the center of the story. It’s kind of cool that there are callbacks to issue one in the final issue, but there is no setup for this development beyond a quick mid-issue plot twist and the fact that, again, every character who has appeared in this volume of Josie and the Pussycats appears in this issue. It feels more like a clipshow that a genuine emotional moment even though having an electric cello player join the Pussycats is pretty badass. Pepper’s appearance seems rushed, and the fact that she’s been left behind the whole series is brushed over with jokes and cute pets. It’s also feels like Valerie and Melody’s arc getting put on the sideline for her guest appearance, and there’s no mention of, say, Valerie’s inner conflict about being in the Pussycats for artistic reasons versus commercial reasons.

However, one story beat that Bennett, DeOrdio, and Shannon really stick the landing on is repairing the friendship between Alexandra and Josie and doing it with style. Alexandra’s “thing” with Alan M is getting pretty complicated, especially since he’s the Pussycats manager and had a fling with Josie in previous issues. (Still working on this.) In the past, Josie and Alexandra would have been passive aggressive about this, but thanks to the power of character development, they talk it out while encased in exosuits straight out of Ultraman. Thanks to Alexandra’s presence in most issues of the series and the real selling of her and Alan M’s romance last issue, the reunion between her and Josie definitely feels earned. I was definitely smiling when they texted each other brunch plans.

Along with Audrey Mok’s fabulous eye for fashion that Shannon ably replicates in this issue, the thing I will miss most about Josie and the Pussycats is Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett’s scripts that are filled to the brim with clever pop culture references, meta gags, and just happen to be flat out hilarious. One line of dialogue, like calling DJ Quiplo’s EDM themed henchmen “WicDiv rejects” because they wish they were as fuckboy as Woden, could create a direct path between my eye and my funny bone. The Archies also fit in nicely as comic relief in Josie #9 with a nod to Reggie’s roots as a greaser when he tries to get out of ropes by using a comb a la Outsiders, or him, or the kidnappers’ priceless reaction when they realize that they forgot to confiscate Veronica’s cellphone.

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Shannon is pretty badass at drawing vehicles and also slays on the double page spreads featuring Josie and Alexandra’s Megazord mecha things. Her faces are a little weak though. For the most part, this doesn’t hurt the story, but it’s a little hard to read Josie’s reaction when she and Alexandra have their *important* conversation about their friendship and Alan M. Is she angry, cool with it,  just plain indifferent, or pulling a weird face? The dialogue confirms that they’re friends, and that Alexandra still wants to pursue Alan M romantically, but Shannon’s art isn’t as expressive as Audrey Mok’s. But her chase scenes are high energy, and the bright yellow and orange backgrounds that Fitzpatrick uses add the artistic equivalent of nitrous to them.

Josie and the Pussycats #9 is a mixed bag plot and Pepper-wise, but Marguerite Bennett, Cameron Deordio, Kelsey Shannon, and Kelly Fitzpatrick include a lot of what made the series so great, including clever humor, exhilarating setpieces, and a focus on female friendship. It’s fitting that the comic ends in one big, adorable sleepover reminiscient of scenes in the fantastic 2001 Josie and the Pussycats film, but without Bullseye the Target dog mascot as a guest.

Story: Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio Art: Kelsey Shannon Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

 Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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