Archie #7 | Writer: Mark Waid | Artist: Veronica Fish | Colorists: Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn | Letterer: Jack Morelli | Publisher: Archie Comics
The more readers delve into this contemporary version of Riverdale, the more grey areas are being explored within the characters. For some like Reggie Mantle, it’s expected that he’ll exhibit qualities so loathsome that they nearly match Jughead’s unyielding hunger pains. What’s been equally surprisingly and worrisome in Mark Waid’s scripting is the growing darkness – albeit a different vein from Mantle’s – within Archie. Here’s a beloved, timeless character that’s barely been altered in appearance and demeanor for over 75 years, suddenly given an authentic personality that’s wrought with frailties. It’s a scary prospect to significantly alter a character known for being perpetually optimistic and always having luck on his side; that Archie Andrews was the figure our parents and grandparents deserved. While they wanted to read the ideal, our more discerning outlook in this day and age seeks characters who are believable and relatable. Qualities that Waid has been able to easily infuse in Archie’s makeup.
In issue seven, Andrew’s resentment is on full display. His conscience, typically a paradigm of righteousness, is hastily put to the test once Ronnie informs him that Mantle has the scoop on his costly accident in issue one. Archie has little time to figure out how Reggie knows his secret (ask Veronica, maybe), only that he has to be stopped somehow. Knowing he lacks any skill for subterfuge, Andrews reunites with Jughead to be his fixer once more and the two attempt to get any intel they can on Reggie, and that includes coaxing a few nuggets from the town’s eyes and ears, Pops himself. The steel vault that is Pop won’t budge so Arch and Jug resort to plan B: going deep cover at Richard Mantle’s newspaper. It isn’t long before Archie stumbles upon the motherlode and becomes very tempted to burn Reggie to ashes to save his relationship with Veronica.
Thankfully, the ginger regains his conscience at the last second, realizing despite the potential ramifications of having Reggie nestled under Mr. Lodge’s crusty old wing, Andrews will have to remove the despicable Mantle from their social circle another way. Archie returns to Pop’s and witnesses the usually objective diner owner/town intelligencer do his best Julian Assange impersonation to make Reginald turn a complete 180, which absolutely destroys his growing rapport with Lodge and any favor his father may have had with the pretentious billionaire (honestly, are there any billionaires who aren’t pretentious?). While Pop’s actions quickly and conveniently solved Archie’s current predicament, it’s a bit of a letdown his issues with Reggie are closed in a succinct manner.
Perhaps he has a soft spot for the redhead and his pals, but it appeared that Pop helped Andrews out this one time mainly because Richard called his diner a slop house. Rule number one: Don’t go into an eating establishment and expect great service or edible food if you call the place a dump. In any case, Pop did what Archie couldn’t and took the low road to get the job done.
A fun way that Archie Comics is attempting to have fans even more engaged in the series is tying social media with the storyline. In the final panels, Archie breaks the fourth wall as he usually does, mentioning his Twitter handle (@archiecomics) and asking readers to share their theories on what past transgressions of Reggie’s Pop disclosed that pressured him to cut ties with Hiram Lodge.
#WhatDidReggieDo will likely be the first of many hashtags used on Twitter to draw the book’s readership into a more inclusive online community. Very smart, if you ask me.
Now that Reggie is out of the picture – at least around the Lodge residence – all that Archie has to do is convince Hiram that he’s a decent boy and worthy of his daughter’s interest. Yeah sure, and Jughead will suddenly cut back on his burger intake. The formal introductions between the goof and the grump will ensue in Archie #8, released digitally and print May 11!
Archie #7’s variant covers were drawn by Marguerite Sauvage and Djibril Morissette-Phan!
Archie #7 = 8/10