Archie #1 Review
Having recently familiarized myself with Archie Andrews and friends in the fantastic Afterlife With Archie horror series, I can’t exactly say I’m walking into Riverdale blind. I’m somewhat knowledgeable of the cast of characters and their distinct personalities, though of course this particular modernized reimagining is quite a bit tamer than Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s zombie apocalypse story. Writer Mark Waid and Fiona Staples manage to give Archie #1 a successful 21st-century update, keeping the essential story details and character traits and embedding them in a world of smartphones and Xbox.
There isn’t exactly much of a narrative in Archie #1 – it mostly serves as an introduction to this modernized take on Riverdale High School. The issue begins with Archie Andrews breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader, a la Deadpool. I’m not sure if this is something Archie has done in the past, but it works pretty well in this particular issue to provide the necessary exposition. Archie explains how he and Betty have been dating since they were in kindergarten, but recently had a bad break-up. The whole school is talking about the downfall of Riverdale High’s “power couple” and pondering what could have driven these two lovebirds apart. Archie mentions a “lipstick incident” as the cause, and both the reader and the Archie’s classmates are left to speculate on just what that could have been. It’s a mystery that goes unresolved for the whole issue; as I mentioned, Archie #1 mostly just serves to get people familiarized with the characters and basic story.
Those closest to Archie try to get his best friend Jughead (the guy with the dumb-looking crown on his head, who stands out like a sore thumb in this modernized take) to dish out the details on the break-up by coaxing him with sweets. While the guy may look utterly ridiculous, he appears to be a good friend – he refuses to betray Archie’s trust and tells everyone to screw off and leave the poor guy alone. Betty makes it clear that Archie did not cheat on her – it’s obvious that even in this updated take Archie is still a total boy scout – but it had to be something pretty bad to justify ending a decade-long relationship. Of course, it’s probably just a huge misunderstanding. Or perhaps writer Mark Waid actually plans to make Archie a bit more relatable by having him actually do something bad for once.
Mark Waid manages to make most of the characters in Archie #1 quite likable, which is very important. My only gripe is that all of the characters, especially Archie, come off as a bit too squeaky clean – at times it seems like the exact same comic as before just with an updated art style and modern technology. Hopefully in future issues the characters will become more three dimensional and relatable. Fiona Staples’ artwork here is fantastic, and perfect for the fresh, youthful feeling this book is going for. The art is clean and colorful, with plenty of expression in the character’s faces.
Overall, Archie #1 succeeds in placing the classic characters in a modern timeline. While there isn’t much of a story in place as of yet, and the characters haven’t really evolved at all from their squeaky clean representation in the 1950s, the artwork is fantastic and I’m definitely interested to see how this series develops. Especially since multiple hints are dropped in this issue that the devious love interest Veronica is moving to Riverdale soon. I’m looking forward to seeing how Waid and Staples flesh out both her and the Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle, especially since Archie is single at the moment.