Previously in Archie #5
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Veronica Fish
Coloring: Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn
Lettering: Jack Morelli
The first chapter starts simple enough: Archie feels pangs of regret for breaking it off with his best friends for Veronica Lodge. After all, they were attempting to ruin his burgeoning relationship with the domineering socialite. While contemplating the possibility of reuniting with his old pals, Arch takes softball to the ol’ brainpan – personally delivered by Betty herself – and is out for the count. Unfortunately for all the kids, this simple accident gives Reggie his window of opportunity to do some serious damage.
Before the chaos unfolds, issue six briefly acquaints readers with two Riverdale teens that are relatively new to the series, Toni Topaz and Sayid Ali. While Toni comes to Andrews’ rescue and literally carries him on her shoulders to the hospital Samwise Gamgee style, Sayid leaves a more significant impression on Cooper. Ali appears innocent enough, remarking on Betty’s athleticism and willingness to learn from any player who can improve his game. His honesty and enthusiasm doesn’t go unnoticed by Betty who immediately gains a small crush on her classmate.
While injecting more and more diversity in Archie, writer Mark Waid is effectively setting up a succession of potential suitors for Cooper, though none have been entirely successful. At least for the moment. No matter Betty’s experiences, the opportunity for anyone aside from Archie to have a healthy social life is a dimension the older comics were severely lacking. Couple Waid’s finesse for scripting relatable leads with new regular artist Veronica Fish’s kinetic, quasi-impressionistic flair and readers can enthusiastically jump into every issue knowing they’ll be thoroughly delighted.
Most of the story revolves around Reginald Mantle and his multipronged attack on Andrews and to a lesser extent, the Lodges. Since being dissed by Cooper and Jones and given a bogus fake ID by Archie in issue five, Reggie has been scheming to appear the better man in the eyes of Ronnie. Problem is both kids are rather vain, covetous, selfish creatures who ride the coattails of their fathers’ efforts. Ronnie is completely disinterested in Mantle’s peacocking; what’s even more crushing to his fragile ego is how even the Lodge’s butler believes he’s an absolute joke.
What is a man to do? Get revenge on the billionaire family, of course!
Completely unaware of Archie’s current condition (typical Ronnie, always me me me…) Veronica divulges to her ghostwriter – for her eventual memoir, duh – why she’s so attracted to our titular klutz. Her admission is kinda dopey and petty, yet totally Veronica. Unlike Reggie, Veronica has a tepid curiosity on how the 99% lives. Her experiences haven’t been favorable since the Lodges moved to Riverdale, however she’s come to quickly accept Archie and his indomitable patience (or acquiescence, depending on who one asks) in dealing with her extremely demanding lifestyle.
Ronnie’s revelation isn’t a secret for long, thanks to her valet’s inability to deter an opportunistic Reggie. Mantle doesn’t think much of the Lodges now, but there’s no denying the potential rewards of being on Hiram’s good side. Exposing the contents of Veronica’s diary in order to receive a favor from one of the most powerful men in the world is a scheme Reggie cannot pass up. And he makes the best of it, revealing Andrews’ accidental destruction of their manor.
Archie might as well stay in the hospital because he’ll be admitted to the ICU if Mr. Lodge has his way. Run, you goofy redhead, run!
Just when one thought Reggie Mantle couldn’t be anymore of an a-hole, leave it to good ol’ Mark Waid to crank up the jerkiness to an 11! One of the best aspects of the new look Riverdale is its inclination to be more grounded, filled with a spectrum of emotions, encounters and characters. Archie can’t always be happy-go-lucky though its charm and pep remain prominent components of the series. Ne’er do wells like Mantle are an occasional necessity to shake things up. But this revised version… he’s something else.
Perhaps he elicits a strong response because Reggie’s practically an amalgamation of every leather jacket wearin’ jerkoff we’ve ever met. You know the kind. The one who buys a lady a drink then thinks he owns her the entire night? The guy who drives a Ferrari down the main strip five times below the speed limit with music blasting to be noticed by all? The dude who will take full credit for a group project when he didn’t do crap? UGH. I don’t know about you reader, but I sure don’t miss the Reggie Mantle from my high school days.