Archie Comics has seen something of a renaissance in the last few years. From the now fan- favourite horror series Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to the revival of classic series The Fox and Black Hood under the Dark Circle imprint, Archie is currently a hive of creativity with some of comics’ top creators turning out some of their best work. It therefore came as no surprise that when it was announced that the world of Riverdale was being revamped, some of the biggest names in the comic industry would be partaking in retelling this iconic comic series.
The first series out of the gate is the main Archie comic. And you just have to look at the creative team to get excited. With the talents of industry veteran and author of some the most acclaimed comic books to come out of America, Mark Waid (Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Kingdom Come, Irredeemable), and according to many, one of the greatest artists working in comics today, Fiona Staples, (Saga) alongside co-artists Annie Wu (Matt Fraction & David Aja’s Hawkeye) and Veronica Fish (Silk), you know you’re in for something special.
Archie Vol. 1 kicks off following Archie Andrews’ rather disastrous breakup with Betty Cooper as a result of the “lipstick incident” that is the talk of Riverdale High School. As Archie meanders through high school life with highs like forming his band “The Archies” and lows as he struggles to find a job to upgrade his terrible car, he runs afoul of millionaire conglomerate Hiram Lodge and in the process encounters his daughter, Veronica. And once again, comics’ most famous love triangle begins for a new generation.
As a result of running continuously since 1941, Archie has a well-established tone and style that, on first glance, this series may appear to be radically departing from. Fans of classic Archie should not be put off though; despite having a more modern tone, Waid effortlessly captures the spirit of the original series whilst leaving his own mark on this new iteration. There are plenty of great humorous moments including Archie’s fruitless attempts at finding work, the incident that made him public enemy number one in Hiram Lodge’s eyes, Veronica’s difficulty adjusting to a normal high school, and generally every time Jughead makes an appearance. Archie promptly becomes wrapped around Veronica’s little finger and the budding rivalry between Betty and Veronica is also greatly done, managing to balance the humour and drama the series is famous for perfectly.
This is all enhanced by Fiona Staple’s beautiful artwork. If you are one of the few comic fans in the world not reading Saga and this is your first exposure to her art, you are in for a treat. With characters as iconic as the cast of Archie, expectations are high and Staples more than delivers. The characters are all given modern designs yet are still easily recognisable. Staples also nails character moments and emotional beats, a great example being when an overly sensitive Veronica reacts badly to cafeteria food and Betty ends up comforting her. Plus she has no problem switching to humorous moments such as the aforementioned job hunting scenes. Annie Wu and Veronica Fish provide art for the last two issues whilst effortlessly capturing the tone Staples sets, making them perfect accompaniments.
It has never been a better time to try Archie. With the great comics being produced and an upcoming live action TV series on the horizon, now is the time to pay Riverdale a visit and Archie Vol. 1 is the perfect place to start.
- Leo Sutherland
Archie Vol. 1 is published by Archie Comics and will be available in the UK from 31 March. (ISBN: 9781627388672 PRICE: £14.99)
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