Monday, July 6, 2015

Review - Archie #1 (@ArchieComics)

"Hi. My name is Archie Andrews. Welcome to Riverdale."

To say that Archie Comics is undergoing a renaissance would be an understatement. The storied publisher is taking all sorts of risks as it reclaims its place as a purveyor of fine books, doing everything from pitting the Riverdale crew against Predator to killing Archie. Their latest shake-up may be the boldest though, as they rebooting the character the publisher takes its name from in Archie #1. The issue is written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Fiona Staples, colored by Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn and lettered by Jack Morelli.

As the new school year approaches, you’d think Archie Andrews would be looking forward to classes and fun—but nothing is as it seems in the little town of Riverdale. But is this a one-off or a sign of bigger changes awaiting for America’s favorite teens—and the entire town? Find out in this exciting and remarkable first issue!

As a character, Archie is instantly recognizable as a typical high school student dealing with typical high school things, such as dating, friendships and family. Waid doesn't deviate from that formula at all in Archie #1, instead drawing upon them as a means of modernizing Archie's trials and tribulations. The entire first issue stems from the "Lipstick Incident" and sets Archie on a course towards the expected romance triangle featuring him, Betty and Veronica. Waid's use of the burgeoning future is excellent, as it subtly introduces readers (and re-acquaints familiar ones) with Archie's world, including his cast of supporting characters. In fact, the first issue essentially breezes by as Archie narrates, guiding the reader with the sort of all-American high school student friendly tone that Archie has embodied for decades.

Part of the appeal of Archie #1 as a revamp of the character is Staples' exquisite linework. Staples has a way of presenting the denizens of Riverdale as youthful and spirited, entirely convincing readers that their world is full of all the requisite high school trappings. Archie is extraordinarily clean-cut, Jughead maintains the familiar crown and Betty sports an tomboyish look that gives each character a distinct personality. Each panel by Staples is delivered with force, as the reader completely gets the prevailing emotion at the time. Doubling-down on that personality is the colors by Szymanowicz and Vaughn, which are vibrant and infuse the book with more of a youthful pedigree.

Archie #1 is a phenomenal first issue. It capitalizes on everything that's made Archie the character endure and gives it a present-day spin, while even working in some subtle fourth-wall breaking in the way of social media cues. Waid's handle of the characters shows reverence to the existing aura of Archie, while at the same time breathes plenty of fresh air into Riverdale. Staples is one of the best illustrators in the game right now and her depiction of well-known characters is fresh. Archie #1 is an astounding first issue that is extremely enjoyable to read and hits all the right notes.

Archie #1 is in stores July 8.


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