In the digital comic series Josie and the Pussycats in Space, Alex de Campi, Devaki Neogi, and Lee Loughridge riff on the 1972 animated series Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. However, with the exception of the first issue, there isn’t a lot of pop music being played in space. Instead, there’s lots of cosmic body horror and applications of Murphy’s Law as the Pussycats go from their next tour stop to eluding a gooey alien parasite. As the five issue miniseries progresses, the setting shifts from United States Space Force ship to rescue pods and finally the vacuum of space.
Although there are definite elements of space horror films like Alien in Josie in Space, de Campi and Neogi do a fantastic job putting their own spin on the genre through suspenseful storytelling and the out-sized personalities of the Pussycats and their supporting cast members Alan M (Who is now a hunky starship captain), Socks, and of course, the Cabot siblings. They use most of the comic’s first issue to establish the friendships and also tension between the band as they’re tired of touring non-stop and living in such close quarters and want to hang out with other people and try other musical endeavors. As well as creating chemistry between the band, it also allows for a classic, slow burn horror setup that succeeds thanks to de Campi’s tight plotting and Neogi’s clear storytelling.
Speaking of Devaki Neogi’s storytelling, she and colorist extraordinaire Lee Loughridge create tension and generally keep things interesting in Josie in Space thanks to varied layouts and color palettes. The comic starts out with a lot of nine panel grids as it seems like it’s just another week in the life of spaceship-setting pop stars. However, then, Neogi uses Dutch angle panels to create a feeling of unease as the ship loses power, time is a little wonky, and the alien parasite starts to pick off the redshirts. Loughridge matches this energy with color palette using flat reds like alarms blaring. I love how depicts the parasite as an all-consuming blackness that matches the tone he uses for some of the space sequences.
Even though this is a series featuring heightened characters in a (sometimes literally) bone-chilling genre, Alex de Campi peppers her script with human moments. For example, Valerie practices grounding exercises with Melody when she has panic attacks a couple times throughout the series. This validates Melody’s emotions and reactions and reinforces her bond with Valerie. In that moment, they aren’t pop culture ciphers, but people reacting to stress. Devaki Neogi reinforces this with her artwork that features a lot of close-up/medium panels so that readers can empathize with the Pussycats and the supporting cast instead of seeing them as monster bait.
Josie and the Pussycats in Space can definitely be read as enjoyable transposition of Americana icons into a science fiction horror setting with a suspenseful plot. However, the inclusion of the actual United States Space Force (Albeit with interplanetary travel capacities) hints at the layered satire of parasitic American imperialism. The inclusion of the Cabots, whose approach is basically to solve problems through money, explosions, and asking questions later is basically American foreign policy since JFK was shot. Also, it’s only hinted at in the first and final chapters because this is more of a comic about scary things than pop music, but Josie and the Pussycats themselves are just another cog in promoting the military industrial, I guess, space complex instead of being countercultural. Maybe, that’s the real reason why Valerie wants to work on solo material.
After that political interlude, Josie and the Pussycats in Space channels this cartoon band’s strangest era into a riveting thriller. Alex de Campi, Devaki Neogi, and Lee Loughridge masterfully transform a cool tour vehicle into an interstellar charnel house and definitely answer the question of “Could Josie and the Pussycats survive Alien?” This comic is worth a download for fans of all-girl pop bands, horror movies, or just exciting, well-crafted stories.
Story: Alex de Campi Art: Devaki Neogi
Colors: Lee Loughridge Letters: Jack Morelli
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy
Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review