Untapped Potential in Rushed Story: The Cult of That Wilkin Boy

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The Cult of That Wilkin Boy

The Archie Horror line has had its share of successes, translating the beloved all-ages teenagers into subversive fright-fest figures. Jughead The Hunger has our burger-bingeing boy become a werewolf. Vampironica sees our rich glamour girl reveal her immortal bloodsucking side. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina... well, Sabrina was always a witch, but the tales here were more deeply mired in demons and gore. It was an experiment that, I surmise, even surprised the publishers when it began with Afterlife with Archie -- a zombie tale that achieved remarkable success and yet somehow went remarkably unfinished despite the publisher expanding the line to other titles.

Chilling Adventures Presents... The Cult of That Wilkin Boy introduces Bingo Wilkin into the franchise. The lead character of his own series, Bingo Wilkin, his girlfriend Samantha Smythe, and the rest of the cast were drawn in the immediately recognizable Archie house style, but almost never intersected with the Riverdale gang. An oft-overlooked character, it was refreshing to see him get some use again, and I was intrigued to see what a horror makeover might do to him. Having already been familiar with the work of Cullen Bunn, and happily satisfied with what I saw in the artwork of Dan Schoening, I plunked down the requested $3.99 and anticipated some intrigue.

Alas, what I got was an uninspired half-plot built around the trope of the musician selling his soul for stardom -- at the crossroads, no less, so let's acknowledge the mythology of the legendary blues singer, Robert Johnson.

We meet Bingo as he's reminded that it's been seven years since he achieved this stardom, and that his bill will soon come due. He travels, alone, back to the empty streets of his home town of Midville to meet up with the demon and renegotiate his contract. When it's no dice, out of nowhere, we find Bingo brought a throng of his fans to physically tear the demon apart. (Good to know: eternal powers and principalities can be physically overcome if you have enough bodies to throw at them.) He then proceeds to offer a contract to another up-and-coming singer, again producing the "now you see them, now you don't" gaggle of true believers.

And there it ends.

Perhaps it's the constraints of the one-shot, but I was looking forward to something that could have launched into a series, with vibes of CW's The Cult or FOX's The Following. I didn't even get Jonestown or a golden fiddle. Instead, I just got an overwhelming sense of disappointment for a missed opportunity.

3.0 / 5.0