I had never read an Archie book before this run, so I can’t tell you whether it is recognizable as such. But it certainly fit my expectations of how its characters related to one another and behaved. The Betty-Archie-Veronica triangle I expected was there. Jughead loves burgers. Betty’s the girl next door, and Veronica’s out of touch and a bit spoiled (but tries to be a decent person most of the time). The only thing I associate with Archie that was absent was a dose of, “Oh golly, gee willikers!” earnestness. I did not mind that omission.
While Mark Waid’s first arc of Archie centered around the mysterious Lipstick Incident that broke up Betty and Archie, this one spends its time on the redhead’s new romance with Veronica. And the fact that Hiram Lodge will go to any lengths to torpedo their relationship. It’s a plot that seems like it could easily be out of the classic version of the comic, but here it feels contemporary. And while the focus remains on high school drama, the book trades in funny moments punctuated by emotion. Often, small details mean a fight or a reconciliation—the little things drive the world through unintended consequence. Like high school in the real world.
The relaunched title has also jettisoned its traditional art style. Following Fiona Staples and Annie Wu, Veronica Fish handles line-work duty for most of this volume, with Thomas Pitilli and Ryan Jampole on breakdowns and finishes for a couple of issues. The art team leans into a contemporary, cartoony style with thick lines and a focus on motion and expression. Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughan finish its pages with bright, saturated colors that reinforce the book’s larger-than-life personalities.
I’ve never had any real attachment to Archie. But over the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve put out that I’ve tried. This book is no exception. It’s a fun read, with recognizable characters, contemporary storytelling, and attention to detail. It doesn’t have the bright-eyed earnestness of the classic comics or the angst of Riverdale (which, for the record, I also dig). I’d recommend this regardless of whether you have any history with Archie; it’s a well-written book about the drama of high school relationships, with likable characters and a sense of humor.
- Archie, Volume Two (#7-12, Betty and Veronica #1)
Writer: Mark Waid | Artists: Veronica Fish (7-10), Thomas Pitilli & Ryan Jampole (11-12) | Colorists: Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughan (7) | Letterer: Jack Morelli | Assistant Editor: Jamie Lee Rotante | Associate Editor: Stephen Oswald | Editor: Mike Pellerito