Thursday, November 9, 2023

Comics Review: "JOSIE Anniversary Spectacular #1" Takes the Pussycats to Outer Space


STORY: Holly G!; Frank Doyle; Tom DeFalco
PENCILS: Holly G!: Dan DeCarlo; Kennedy Bros.
INKS: Jim Amash; Rudy Lapick
COLORS: Glenn Whitmore
LETTERS: Jack Morelli; Vincent DeCarlo; Bill Yoshida
EDITORS: Jamie Lee Rotante; Vincent Lovallo; Stephen Oswald
EiC: Mike Pellerito
COVER: Dan Parent with Rosario “Tito” Peña
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (January 2024); on-sale November 8, 2023

Rating: All-Ages

Josie and the Pussycats in “Rock Cats”

In December 1962, Archie Comics published a comic book entitled She's JosieShe's Josie #1 (cover date: February 1963) gave a starring role to a level-headed redhead named “Josie Jones” and focused on her fanciful life and times as a teenager.  Created by Dan DeCarlo, Josie first appeared in Archie's Pals 'n' Gals #23 (cover dated: Winter 1962-1963).

Josie Jones would become "Josie James," and later, she would take the name by which most readers and fans know her, “Josie McCoy.”  She's Josie was renamed Josie with issue #17 (cover dated: December 1965).  The series became Josie and the Pussycats with issue #45 (cover date: December 1969), in which Josie and her friend, Melody, formed a band called the Pussycats.  The two friends added bassist, Valerie Smith, the new girl in school and one of the first major African-American comic book characters.  The trio donned leopard print band uniforms that came with long tails and cat-ear headbands.  Hanna-Barbera adapted this new-look Josie into the Saturday morning animated television series, “Josie and the Pussy Cats” (1970-71), and the follow-up, “Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space” (1972-73).

2023 is the year Archie Comics is celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of Josie's debut.  Archie has just published the one-shot comic book, Josie Anniversary Spectacular, No. 1.  The comic book features one new story, “Rock Cats.”  It is written by Holly G!; drawn by Holly G! (pencils) and Jim Amash (inks); colored by Glenn Whitmore; and lettered by the great Jack Morelli.

Josie and the Pussycats in “Rock Cats”:
The story opens with Josie and the Pussycats: Josie McCoy, Valerie Brown, and Melody Valentine being launched into space aboard the first Lodge/Cabot rocket for an extraordinary concert event.  It's a first – Pussycats in orbit!  There is trouble in space, however, and soon the girls have lost contact with their fans back on Earth.  Can a passing space fan save the day and the concert? 

The story features a host of characters from the world of Archie Comics.  From Josie and the Pussycats, there is Alan M. Mayberry, Alexander Cabot III, Alexandra Cabot, and Pepper Smith.  The “Archie Gang” includes, Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, and Veronica Lodge, to name a few.  Plus, there is a special appearance by Cosmo the Merry Martian.

THE LOWDOWN:  I have been a fan of the Josie and the Pussycats franchise since I was a small child.  I am crazy about classic Josie comic books from the 1960s to the early 1980s and of the 1970s animated series.

Josie Anniversary Spectacular No. 1 offers a new story in “Rock Cats” that manages to hit upon a number of familiar Josie elements, although it is only five pages long.  I must admit that I like writer-artist Holly G!'s visual nod to the rocket ship that the legendary comic book artist and illustrator, Alex Toth, designed for the “Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space” animated series.

Josie Anniversary Spectacular, No. 1 also reprints two vintage Josie stories drawn by Dan DeCarlo, Josie's creator.  They are “A Gym Dandy” from She's Josie #1, and “The Ghostly Guardian” from Josie and the Pussycats #61 (cover dated: April 1972).  This comic book also includes a story starring one of the original She's Josie's supporting characters, Pepper Smith, who has made something of a comeback.  It is a modern story entitled “Only the Strong Survive” from World of Betty and Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest #18 (cover dated: August 2022).

I must warn you, dear readers.  I will always recommend classic-style Archie Comics titles.  Thus, I am happy to recommend Josie Anniversary Spectacular, No. 1, and I am pleased that Archie Comics has published it.  Here's to a brighter future for Josie and the Pussycats.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of classic-style Archie Comics and of Josie and the Pussycats will definitely want to get a copy of Josie Anniversary Spectacular No. 1.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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