I Can't Believe This Is An Archie Comic

I Can't Believe This Is an Archie Comic

No more love triangle. No more cartoony art style with the giant eyes. No more sharing milkshakes. The main Archie comic was rebooted today, and the first issue is damn good.

For decades, Archie Andrews has been America's Favourite Teenager, a likeable redhead who lived in a town still tethered to the warm, fuzzy nostalgia of mid-century Americana. Sure, cell phones and other signs of time's passage appeared in Riverdale, but the comics set there mostly revolved around light, easily resolvable dramas. Despite some surprising experimentation of late, this comics brand has been understood as safe and relatively harmless. http://kotaku.com/archie-is-comi...

Even with the trademark Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, heartache was never a real threat. But that's all changed, thanks to two of the hottest talents in comics.

I Can't Believe This Is an Archie Comic

Mark Waid and Fiona Staples -- the writer of a phenomenal stretch of Daredevil and the artist for the hit series Saga -- are the core of the creative team for Archie #1. The comic's story begins right after an off-panel break-up between Archie and Betty Cooper, who've been "a couple since kindergarten," in his words. An undisclosed "Lipstick Incident" split them apart, and the issue's plot finds both of them trying to weather the scrutiny while their high-school friends scheme to get them back together. I never thought reading an Archie comic would make me reflect on what it's like to be lonely in a room of full of people. But this one did.

I Can't Believe This Is an Archie Comic

Archie feels realer than in his previous iteration. There is heart here that wasn't in the old comics. Staples' expressive artwork adds to this heaviness. She captures the elevated energy of teenage emotions without making things feel cartoonish. Just look at those poor kids' faces on the second page of the spread below.

I Can't Believe This Is an Archie Comic

Waid sets up two clever elements in this reboot debut. By shrouding an air of mystery around the Lipstick Incident, he give readers a reason to show up next month. And he invokes readers' collective familiarity with the Archie mythos to pique curiosity. Archie/Betty/Veronica isn't a thing in this particular comic but it has been before. Yet, Veronica's not even in this issue; she's only mentioned as a rich girl moving to town. It's not a given that same triangle will form here. Part of the hook is in seeing what will change. This is the kind of comics storytelling trick that super-hero publishers have used for decades. People would know that, say, Clark pined for Lois while she pined for Superman, but reboot after reboot would juggle those dynamics.

The characterisation of Jughead is another of the issue's high points, too. Archie's best friend isn't just a goofy glutton. He's more thoughtful and layered than the amiable, walking punchline from older Archie tales.

I Can't Believe This Is an Archie Comic

I wonder how jarring this new first issue might be for diehard Archie lovers. Compared to DC and Marvel, Archie has been a slumbering but sizeable player. If this were a Superman or Batman comic, then hardcore fans might get upset over the changes being made to such a long-running character. The character of Archie doesn't feel like the centre of the universe anymore. He's just another young adult in a comic that tilts towards naturalistic drama than wacky comedy. There are still laughs but they're expertly balanced against gasps of shock and sighs of regret. Archie #1 feels like a great start to a new vision, a comic for today that doesn't gloss over the fact that being a teenager can be both fun and exhausting.

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Comments

    No more love triangle. No more cartoony art style with the giant eyes. No more sharing milkshakes.
    The it really isn't an Archie comic, just a new comic, it could have just as easily been a totally new IP, I kind of wish it was, the characters look different enough anyway, apart from Jughead. I know it probably wouldn't sell as well, but I wish they had just made a new thing altogether.
    The characters look kind of 90s to me.

    Last edited 09/07/15 2:12 pm

      Eh, they'll get back into the swing of things. There's Betty & Archie, who will totally get back together except that when they are about to Veronica will come along because her Daddy just bought the big mansion up the road. You can see shades of the hilarity to come, such as Jughead's love for food and Archie piling up burgers on the lunch tray. I'm thinking it will become like it was before, just with a different art style and slightly more 'angsty'.

    Part of me wonders why they even made this an Archie reboot instead of just some new comic but the article is right... even as a non-comic reader I know vaguely about the characters in Archie already just from cultural osmosis, and I'm genuinely interested to see where this new series takes them.

    An undisclosed “Lipstick Incident” split them apartIs it wrong that this makes me think of the "Noodle Incident" from Calvin and Hobbes?

    Last edited 09/07/15 3:35 pm

    Mark Waid and Fiona Staples though, how can you saw no to that?

    I'm especially looking forward to Zdarsky writing Jughead.

    Enjoyed my share of Archie comics as a kid, but haven't gone out of my way to read one in almost 20 years, besides that "Afterlife with Archie" miniseries (which was all sorts of rad). Have been loving Saga recently. This has me very intrigued!

      Afterlife with Archie is so good, I stopped pirating it and started buying it in physical form!

    The only thing I remember is that stupid hat, and he's still wearing it. Surprised they didn't all whip out their mobiles and start snapchatting

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