2015 was an interesting year for comic books. Readers and retailers saw an evolution of sorts in the numerous titles that would populate their long boxes and shelves. DC Comics saw their New 52 branding come to a close after four years; Marvel saw a relaunch of all their major titles; and a long running publisher quietly rebooted their universe. A universe filled with Black Hoods, Foxes, Teenage Witches, and fresh faced, modern, high-school students. A universe under the publication banner of Archie Comics. Archie Comics quickly became a hit among readers with their darker themed properties like Afterlife with Archie, the Dark Circle Comics imprint, and the newly relaunched Archie by Mark Waid and Jughead by Chip Zdarsky. Admittedly, Archie quickly became my favorite comic book publisher and nearly all of their titles jumped to the top of my pull list. No longer concerned with worlds converging and secret wars taking place across the multi-verse, I could only worry about the safety of Paul Patton Jr and his family, concern myself with Greg Hettinger’s battle with addiction, and develop a wild comic-book crush on Victoria Adams! The first title that I’d read before my stories of alien saviors and amazonian princesses was, none other, than tales of misadventures of the kids at Riverdale High School. A certain #lipstickincident was now high drama and the daydreams of a crown wearing misfit kept me coming back for more. There were tweets! E-mails! And Blabs! With the start of a new year and having read Mark Waid and Veronica Fish’s Archie issue 5 (out now), I could confidently and proudly announce that Archie was the best comic of 2015 and should be the must read of 2016!
Archie issue 5, in stores today, features the major debut of Reggie Mantle III. After issue 4 concluded with Betty and Jughead devising a plan to break up Archie and Veronica, they knew the only person they could turn to was Reggie. He’s “self-centered, scheming, and nasty.” “Nobody knows or cares why he’s so rotten [and he’s]the closest thing Riverdale has to a super-villain.” Mark Waid has Archie describe his nemesis in an almost Suess-ical, Grinch-ical way. It works. Reggie Mantle III isn’t a very nice guy and before Chapter One is over, we seen him run over kids bicycles and make a rude comment regarding someone’s weight.
The Betty/Jughead deal with the devil – Reggie Mantle III, works to great effect and issue 5 plays a bit like an 80’s John Hughes film. There’s a spunk to the series and Mark Waid’s authenticity in writing works in a way that makes Archie that best comic of 2015 and must read of 2016.
There are a few laugh out loud moments in Archie issue 5 and while the dialogue is all Mark Waid, fans of the series have been very lucky to have Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and now Veronica Fish on board the project. Issue 5’s artist, Veronica Fish, was the artist behind the Riverdale promo image for the planned CW series, and her art keeps the book stylistically in the same vein as Staples and Wu. However, her angular depictions of Archie and company, along with her endearing cartoon emotions she gives to the likes of the main cast, is reminiscent of Dean Haspiel and his work on Dark Circle Comics’ The Fox.
Every issue of Mark Waid’s Archie feels episodic and if there is any Archie source material better for The CW to find inspiration in, it’s this series. Waid has found a way to modernize the hijinks at Riverdale in a way that honors the spirit of the classic stories. Perhaps that’s why the inclusion of Archie classics work so well within each issue.
Archie issue 5 is a must read and should not be overlooked. With the start of a new year and the promise of an Adam Hughes Betty and Veronica series – Archie Comics are the publisher to keep your eyes on and closely follow. It’s classic, inviting to all ages, and may just be that reason you fall in love with comics all over again!
PSST! “Trip Zerdersky” on Reggie’s fake I.D.? We noticed what you did there, Mr. Waid!
Archie #5 gets ***** stars!
The biggest comic series of the year presses on! Betty and Jughead have declared war on Veronica over the heart and soul of Archie Andrews! Who should you be rooting for? You might just be surprised by the answer! Rising star comics artist Veronica Fish (Pirates of Mars, the RIVERDALE CW promo image) joins the legendary Mark Waid on creative duties for this brand new issue!
Script: Mark Waid
Art: Veronica Fish, Andre Szymanowicz, Jack Morelli
Archie #5 CVR A Reg Cover: Veronica Fish
Archie #5 CVR B Variant: Thomas Pitilli
Archie #5 CVR C Variant: David Williams
On Sale Date: 1/6
32-page, full color comic
Script: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Erica Henderson
Jughead #3 CVR A Reg Cover: Erica Henderson
Jughead #3 CVR B Variant: Khary Randolph
Jughead #3 CVR C Variant: Ty Templeton
On Sale Date: 12/30
32-page, full color comic