Title: Archie Vol. 1 & 2
Author: Mark Waid
Illustrators: Fiona Staples and Veronica Fish
Publisher: Archie Comics
Release Date: 3/29/16 & 12/20/16
Recommended For: First time comic book readers, fans of Riverdale TV show
YAY: Even if I wasn’t a fan of the comics, I have to admit that the art, especially in the first volume, is stunning. Fiona Staples, the same illustrator for the award-winning Saga series, gives Riverdale a contemporary makeover with interesting and diverse characters that fill the hallways, even if we don’t get to know them well on the page.
NAY: The new revival takes the series all the way back to the beginning, so the character relationships and dynamics from the old comics have yet to be established. Sadly, without them, many of the characters fall flat and the series lacks the silliness that made the comics fun in the first place.
I doubt most people know this judging by my current interests, but I was basically raised in a comic book store, and all I have to show for it is a stack of Archie and Sabrina comics in a couple boxes somewhere that could… I don’t know, be mildly impressive to certain people?
I wasn’t, and I’m still not, the type of person to know what run I read, what volume numbers they were, who the author, illustrator, etc., were. However, I can say that between the ages of six and twelve, I inhaled a lot of Archie comics, including the original Archie, Betty & Veronica, Jughead, and even a couple Reggie-centered comics. I stopped reading when I entered Middle School, but there’s no ignoring that my childhood was saturated with the Riverdale crew. So when I heard that there was going to be an updated story line, I was pretty excited after I got over the initial holy crap that comic is still on going?
As I said earlier, the new Archie revival has a definitive beginning: Archie and Betty are the power couple of small-town Riverdale; they’re the couple everyone aspires to be, and they WILL get married and pop out sixteen red-headed children. Until one day, they aren’t. In fact, they aren’t even speaking to each other because of something called “The Lipstick Incident.” Enter Veronica Lodge, daughter of multi-billionaire Hiram Lodge, and cue Archie literally falling over himself to win her favor. Betty who? Ten-year long friendship what? Now the whole town is desperate to snatch Archie away from Veronica and reunite Betty and Archie once and for all, regardless of what anyone else involved actually wants.
The second volume follows the same story, except now Betty is seeing an absolute sweetheart named Sayid, a fellow baseball player with a large, caring family and an athlete’s body that has other girls taking notice. However, Betty can’t seem to pay attention to sweet Sayid, because she’s consumed with what Archie and Veronica are doing at every moment of the day. Not that Archie notices her distress. He’s too busy avoiding Hiram Lodge and doing w h a t e v e r Veronica wants him to. That is, until his cluelessness not only hurts Betty but also a member of her family, and he can’t ignore his blind devotion any more.
Maybe my memory betrays me, but I don’t remember Archie being this much of a jerk. Kind of stupid? Yes. A Clutz? Yes. But insensitive and selfish to the point of cruelty? Uh, no? And god, don’t even get me started on the female relationships in this series. In the original run, Betty and Veronica, though involved in stupid cat-fights 90% of the time, were friends. They did friend things, and they cared about each other. The way this new series is set up, these two girls have never had the chance to develop a friendship, and at the pace the series is moving, I don’t know if they will. Over the course of two volumes, composed of 12 issues, Betty and Veronica have spoken TWICE, and both times it was about… Archie. In fact, I’m not sure if there are any female relationships in this series that AREN’T tinged by pointless girl hate.
That being said, I know there are some people that are going to be interested in the series because of the new TV series on the CW. I haven’t been watching the show, but I have been kind of following what it’s about. For those that like it, they’ll probably like this run with all the drama involved. Plus, Riverdale is much more modern, and it shows in the characters’ interactions with Twitter, texting, and other forms of social media. Archie even asks you, the reader, to tweet certain hashtags at different points.
For those that don’t like the show so much, stayed tuned for my review of the first two volumes of Jughead, a spin off series with a much different feel.