A His and Hers Review of Archie Vol One
by J3h and Jess
“If it wasn’t for my love of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I wouldn’t be into Archie today” I say with all sincerity. And if it weren’t for that Archie Comics panel Jim made me sit through at NYCC, I wouldn’t have read it at all.
Seriously, I love the ongoing epic tale of zombie apocalypse survival whether it’s on AMC or as originally chronicled in comic book form. The passion comes not just for the horror and gore, but for the well rounded and developed characters that one grows to be deeply invested in. So how does this link us to what is generally perceived to be the most wholesome and kid friendly brand Archie comics? In 2013, Archie Comics took a risk and launched a mature readers horror title, Afterlife with Archie, after popular response to a one off Halloween themed variant cover by artist Francesco Francavilla to their Life With Archie traditional series.
Originally figuring it was going to be a brief goof, I picked up the first issue at NYCC looking forward to silly zombie hoards terrorizing and turning the simplistic two dimensional iconic teen cast of the little town of Riverdale with great artwork. Not only is the artwork stunning, to my pleasant surprise what writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has crafted is a complex horror tale with a mature and real life/extreme scenario take on those characters that pretty much everyone has some sort of familiarity of, but now rivaling anything the best YA genre series has to offer. It made me actually care about Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Forsythe P. “Jughead” Jones III, and the rest of the townsfolk (and their pets…the issue about Archie’s dog WILL make you cry. No it didn’t *sniff*) as they were no longer slice of life caricatures. I’ll be doing a full article for Afterlife With Archie for Bookish Devices in October and hopefully get Jess to read the series as well to join in again, (Jim really doesn’t want me to read Afterlife. I tend to jinx books and whenever I start reading a series regularly it ends up delayed by months or years. But I will say the art is gorgeous) but it needs to be said that the greatness and popularity of that series led Archie Comics to launch another horror title, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and then to a full brand and line relaunch in 2015 which brings us to what we are reviewing today.
Archie Volume One collects the first 5 issues of the new ongoing series which, to use a trendy comic and movie industry term, “reboots” the history and reintroduces us to Archie and his friends. Veteran master comic writer Mark Waid has kept the nostalgic feeling while making trendy modern Americana that hits all the right teenage melodrama and angst in a true small town sense. It’s no surprise that the CW network is launching a new Riverdale television series this coming fall that will easily be the next Beverly Hills 90210 or Dawson’s Creek. The characters developed on the printed page now are ready for that spotlight.
I think Jim’s 90210 comparison is spot on. The new Archie series hits all the right buttons for a light, fun, and entertaining YA series. It holds true to the spirit of the classic Archie series while giving it just enough of a modern twist to make it appeal to today’s comic book fans. It’s crossover potential to make fans of first time comic readers is high. I think that many of my book friends looking for clean YA either for themselves or their teens will really enjoy the series as well–even if you’re “not comic book people.”
Did you ever wonder how a Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle would work with Betty and Veronica staying best friends? That the kind of question Mark Waid pondered before putting the pen to page and redesigned the ultimate “ship” for fandom to be divided over (we’re both Team Betty btw).
Art for the first three issues are drawn by Fiona Staples, the artist of the extremely popular series Saga published by Image Comics, and it was a brilliant selection by Archie Comics to have her be the one to contemporise the character designs and to evolve them beyond the brand house style that people visualize when Archie is mentioned. Art for later issues are equally well done by Annie Wu (Black Canary) and ultimately by current series artist Veronica Fish who each bring their own style but don’t clash drastically with what came before when changing out.
Archie Comics has continued to expand the relaunched line, giving break out character Jughead his own series (which the collected Archie Volume One also contains the first issue of), and later this year starts Betty & Veronica by extremely popular artist Adam Hughes who is best known for his depictions of female characters.
Archie Volume One is available in print at comic shops and bookstores or on any of your electronic bookish devices (contextual meta name drop, ha!) via Amazon and Comixology including their brand new Comixology Unlimited digital subscription service. Have you taken a look at the new Comixology Unlimited program? I’m in love with it. Great for casual fans of all ages (i.e. not people who need to collect every comic in single issue, trade, and special limited editions filling your closets with longboxes) it allows subscribers to access a huge selection of some of today’s best comics for only $6 a month. In my opinion it’s a fantastic deal.
Have you read the new Archie series? Are you a fan of Classic Archie? Let us know in the comments!