IT SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRT IN ARCHIE #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Fiona Staples
Colorist: Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Achieving a lasting popularity with one’s creation over a lifetime is a blessed thing.
Few properties have experienced this mix of talent and happenstance within pop culture. Even fewer have been able to keep that lightning in a bottle and make it last entire generations. For 75 years (!!!) Archie Comics has entertained hundreds of millions of casual readers and comic enthusiasts with the typically adventures of Archie Andrews and his lovable sidekick, Jughead.
Archie and his Riverdale crew have changed – albeit painfully slowly – over the decades. In the last five years, Archie Comics has taken many bold strides with its characters and imprint under the leadership on Jon Goldwater. The Riverdale gang, which had been languishing for some time has been steadily building a new following thanks to titles like Afterlife With Archie and the introduction of Kevin Keller.
In the spotlight for today’s audience, the relaunch of the brand has been off to a running start.
Legendary writer Mark Waid has laid the definitive groundwork for this bright and shiny Riverdale. On the first page, Archie has already broken the fourth wall to welcome us to this familiar, yet entirely different world. Our titular character gives readers a brief lay of the land, and within the first dozen panels the reader is (re)introduced to nearly half the cast of teens many of us have grown up with.
Unlike the Riverdale of old with its steady pace and smattering of homogenized secondary characters, this town feels more alive and inclusive within the first couple page of the premiere issue. Couple that with Fiona Staple’s (Saga) sharp, energetic style and all of Riverdale is given a spark of vitality it sorely needed. What’s also very illuminating is seeing the considerable amount of diversity presented within Riverdale High. Not only in regards to ethnicities, but the manner in that the students express their individual styles; a circumstance that again plays on Staple’s strengths as an artist, but is further enhance by the vibrant colors used in dazzling effect by Szymanovwicz and Vaughn.
Life with Archie in Riverdale is essentially at square one. He isn’t Mr. Popular. He doesn’t exude the affable confidence old school Archie wielded like a madman in his previous adventures. Waid has crafted Andrews as a more relatable teen with his unsureness and insecurities. He has a healthy social life, but keeps things to himself. Naturally, Archie retains that wholesome Riverdale charm that’s equally appealing and irksome.
Readers jump into Archie in the midst of a startling event that has taken back most of the student population. Once coasting along the sidelines, Archie is now in the eye of the storm, fueling the rumor mills, and all those other sayings one can think of to say he’s now the center of attention.
Thanks to this vexing “lipstick incident” that shook up the status quo, Archie’s friends and acquaintances can’t seem to find anything better to do than fix whatever’s ailing poor young Andrews. Their meddling, however, could do more damage instead of patching things up. In the meantime, one of the most prominent families in the world is planning to move to Riverdale (I wonder who THAT is) and things are bound to be shaken up even further.
Archie has proven what’s old can be brand new again. A resurgence of this magnitude for the characters so beloved was sorely needed and will hopefully launch them into another seventy-five years of adoration. This goes to show that with a touch of nostalgia and a dash of modernity, new life can be breathed into the oldest comic institutions.