ARCHIE #1 with Kate (and Dan)
FADE IN… Dan and Kate are grabbing a burger and chocolate banana malt at a local burger joint. The malt is better than the burger, and the joint’s kitschy interior is trying too hard. But it’s a fun time.
K: Look at all this Happy Days type junk on the wall. Hey isn’t that Howdy Doody?
D: How would I know?
Yup. That’s Howdy Doody.
K: You look kinda bored.
D: I just don’t like when things try too hard. It comes off as disingenuous, you know? But if things are really clicking? Everything is in synch and natural? Yeah, that’s the good stuff.
K: Are you talking about Art, Life, or that chocolate banana malt you just polished off without sharing with me?
D: I… My tummy hurts.
K: Thought so. Let’s check out the weekly comic haul while your greedy tummy settles out.
D: ‘K. Dibbs on ARCHIE #1!
K: Too late, Malty Malmon.
D: Fine. Just don’t get any ketchup on that.
K: DONE! Imma get another malt while you read ARCHIE #1.
D: Get another one for me, too!
D: The Archie in this ARCHIE #1 is exactly like the Archie Comics of the past and yet it is nothing like them at all. The regular cast of characters are present: Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Principal Weatherbee. (I assume Veronica is going to show up in issue 2 since they drop some hints about a new family with a daughter coming to town.) The gang is still going to Riverdale High School. However it is set in modern day so there are more subtle differences from previous iterations of the comic. The high school is more diverse and the kids use more technology than in past books.
K: However some themes aren’t bound to one era. In ARCHIE #1, Archie and Betty have been together since elementary school. Everyone at Riverdale High believes that they will be #2Gether4Ever and their world is rocked when the power couple breaks up. No one knows why, but the gang is determined to get Archie and Betty back together.
D: If Archie and Betty can’t make it, what chance to the rest of us stand? ::takes bite of French fry::
K: Exactly! How can Riverdale High exist without Archie and Betty?
D: Writer Mark Waid has masterfully brought the Riverdale gang into the 21st Century. He has remained true to the characters that we’ve all come to know and love. Archie’s still a redheaded high school boy and his best friend is still the crown-wearing Jughead. They still have the same problems: girls in particular for Archie, being powerless when confronted by desserts for Jughead.
K: The art by Fiona Staples seals the deal when it comes to this updated version of ARCHIE. She has completely changed the look of the comic. When you think about an ARCHIE book, the bright colors and the classic Dan DeCarlo “Archie look” are the first things that come to mind. The art in the new book looks more realistic and less like something from the Sunday comics. I was knocked out by how expressive Staples makes the characters’ faces. There is one series of panels where Archie is explaining that he’d really like to talk with Betty. Meanwhile, Betty’s in the background, about to tap him on the shoulder to chat. So much is expressed in those four panels!
D: That sequence just about ripped my heart out.
K: And Archie’s description of Betty? “She smells like flowers and motor oil.” Just wonderful stuff from Mark Waid.
D: ::dunks French fry in 3rd malt::
K: But that’s really the magic here: You can give Archie skinny jeans and a faux hawk all you want, but if there is no heart underneath the “R” on his Riverdale letterman jacket, than there’s just no point in reading any further.
D: Well said. Judging from the next issue cover preview, we’ll get to see things from Betty’s point of view.
K: I assume I don’t have to remind you to put this on your pull list?
D: Already done. Just like this 4th chocolate banana malt.