Published on July 17th, 2015 | by Steven Roman
Review: Archie #1
He’s America oldest teenager, a redheaded high-school student who’s spent the past seventy-four years caught in a humorous-though-sometimes-vicious tug-of-war between a sweet, girl-next-door type door named Betty, and a hot-tempered, spoiled brat named Veronica. Through the decades he’s dealt with battles of the bands, monsters, aliens, teenage witches, and even Marvel Comics’ Punisher, but in all those years, Archie Andrews has always managed to avoid the one life-changing event that has struck every mainstream comic character: a series reboot.
And so we have Archie #1, the start of the all-new, all-different series written by Mark Waid (Star Wars: Princess Leia), illustrated by Fiona Staples (Saga), and published by Archie Comics. In this premiere issue, Archie and the gang at Riverdale High get a real-world makeover, complete with teen angst, hashtags, a homecoming dance, and an Archie who breaks the fourth wall to directly address the reader, filling you in on all the drama currently unfolding in his life.
Think of it as Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, for the iTunes generation.
Storywise, I was hesitant about how this relaunch would be handled by Waid, an accomplished writer who certainly has the talent to create good stories, but who’s been in the business for three decades. Would he be able to write for contemporary teenagers, or would it read like someone’s dad trying to prove he’s “hip” with the kids? Flashing through my mind were memories of DC’s Brother Power the Geek, a 1960s hippie “superhero” created by Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, who, in his late fifties, made cringe-worthy attempts to appeal to the counterculture. Luckily, Waid avoids Simon’s pitfalls by focusing on his strong points: dialogue and characterization.
For longtime Archie fans, though, Staples’s new look for the characters themselves may take some getting used to. Gone are the familiar cartoony faces and sleek lines perfected by artists like Dan DeCarlo (although that house style will still have a home at Archie Comics), replaced with a more realistic approach, punctuated by the type of subtle and effective facial expressions and body language you wouldn’t find in an old-school Archie title. For newer fans who’ve been attracted to the company in recent years by such things as the introduction of Kevin Keller (the first gay Archie character), the launch of the zombie-apocalyptic Afterlife with Archie, and recent crossovers with KISS and Predator, the new-look Archie shouldn’t seem like such a surprise.
Bottom line? A reinvigorated, redesigned Archie and his pals, just in time to celebrate their upcoming 75th anniversary, is a bold move, yet one that seems certain to appeal to an all-new generation of fans—as well as older comic readers who no doubt have considered Archie Comics as being solely for kids. Check out the new Archie—like his best friend, Jughead, you might just come back for second and third helpings.
Written by Mark Waid
Art and main cover by Fiona Staples
Publisher: Archie Comics
32 pages • full-color
Now on sale