With comic books appealing to a much wider demographic nowadays, there seems to be a title out there for everyone. Graphic novels have become very popular as it provides a great alternative to those who enjoy comic books, but don’t want to necessarily commit to the week to week, month to month basis of buying/collecting. One of our favorite comic books is releasing this week in comic stores and if you’ve been following What’cha Reading, you probably know what it is. Okay, you want us to tell you? Sure! It’s Mark Waid’s reboot/relaunch of Archie! “America’s favorite teenager” is coming to comic stores and soon book sellers shelves this very month. Collecting the first six issues of Archie, this is the graphic novel you’ll want to pick up.
When Archie debuted last July, we immediately rediscovered why the people of Riverdale have endured for 75+ years in pop-culture. Sometimes it’s a whole lot more fun to read stories that more closely reflect our own lives and situations than the bigger, grander stories of super-heroics, Black-Hood’s and Shield’s (and we do love those as well!) One of my favorite aspects of Spider-Man was never so much the parts when our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler would be swinging and slinging webs, but more so the day to day troubles and triumphs of Forest Hills’ native Peter Parker. I’ve been out of high school for a while, E-I-C Chuck a little longer, so when the reboot of Archie was announced and we then got an advance, we weren’t quite sure on how relevant it’d be towards us. Would we still root for Archie Andrews? Would Jughead’s antics still be endearing? Was it creepy to still actively crush on Betty and Veronica just like all of Riverdale? Chuck’s answer? “Mark has found that “likeable kid” formula that makes a comic (or tv show for that matter) work.” Continuing into issue #2, it became evident that Archie Comics’ reboot of their flagship hero and series was “instantly appealing.” Writer Mark Waid, a personal favorite of mine since reading his Superman Birthright DID find the formula that makes a comic (or tv show…) work. He expertly laid the groundwork for a series that immediately brings the reader into a world that you want to visit on a weekly and monthly basis – a world called Riverdale, populated by all the people you wish you knew (and probably already do.) We all have a Reggie Mantle III, right?
Those familiar with the previous Archie comics will recognize the subtle homages with chapter titles. Other than that, Mark Waid has created a fun story with reinterpreted and fully realized versions of Riverdale’s most beloved residents. We see Archie Andrews as a reliably aloof and bumbling youngster with an eye for beautiful women and a penchant for breaking the fourth wall. It’s more Malcolm in the Middle than Deadpool and there’s a lot of charm within each panel. Fiona Staples, a young artist with an incredible following, delivers a cute and instantly appealing series that modernizes Archie and friends. The overall look and aesthetic seems like the perfect material to serve as The CW’s contextual and style inspiration for the upcoming series Riverdale.
One of the strongest aspects of Mark Waid’s script is how he develops characters such as Forsythe P. Jones III a.k.a. Jughead and Betty. Jughead is essentially the Robert Downey Jr of the 80’s teen movies such as Back to School and Tuff Turf. He delivers one of the best lines in the issue and it serves as one of the main reasons that everyone, young and old, should read Mark Waid and Fiona Staples series:
“If you’re going to survive in this world, here’s what you need to know: You are who you are, not what people think you are. Be straight. Be weird. Be whatever. Just be what you wanna be.”
With Mark Waid’s reinterpretation of Jughead, he becomes the character you’re most interested in because, well, he’s a bit of a rogue-ish enigma.
If Jughead is any indication of a character getting a spin-off out of this new series, I would not be surprised if we get a Betty solo-series as well. [Betty & Veronica is out this summer!] She’s Archie’s “best mechanic” with knowledge of cars, maintenance, and video games. Mark Waid’s Betty immediately becomes the readers comic book crush and gives Veronica a run for her money. She’s tough, full of spunk, and she’s featured in a chapter focused primarily on her – “Chapter Two: One Of The Guys.” There’s a scene that finds Betty alone with a boy in her room. Trevor tries to kiss her and it’s suggested in a subtle way that he wants to take their relationship “to the next level”, but Betty pushes him away. It’s a mature scene, but it plays out well under Mark Waid’s script and Fiona Staples art work.
Mark Waid presents Archie with more teenage/adult subject matter. But nothing is ever gratuitous or unnecessary. His series is a great re-imagining of classic characters such as Veronica Lodge and Kevin Keller. However, in the first issue of Archie, we’re introduced to Archie and Betty post breakup. Mark Waid ends up creating a buzzword for the series and a key hashtag – #lipstickincident … Yes, #lipstickincident
So, #lipstickincident. What’s it all about? We’ve had this running hashtag reference in Archie since issue one and, until issue 4, we’re left in the dark. There was some speculation that it would be a great esoteric reference meant only for Archie and friends to understand, much like Donna and Harvey on USA’s Suits with their can-opener ritual. However, all that changed as promised since issue 3. After a solid build-up, Archie issue 4, Chapter Three: #LipstickIncident we finally learn the truth. While the #LipstickIncident may be disappointing for some, I felt it worked within the story Waid is telling. Sure, it may have been more enjoyable if it was never explained, but the actual incident feels like something that could happen and would drive a couple apart.
Archie remains at the top of our must list. Despite having a penchant for good vs. evil, heroes fighting villains, and multiple comic spanning story arcs, there is an undeniable quality about having a title that is purely focused on telling a good story. Archie is that comic book.
If you’ve yet to read Archie, we strongly suggest running out to your nearest comic shop this week to pick it up. Or just check out Archie and order it direct from them. They also have an app, as well. As a personal fan of super-heroes and what not, Archie Comics is my favorite publisher and Archie is one of the few ongoing series that I greatly anticipate on a monthly basis. Mark Waid is handling the series in an invigorating and relevant way, with Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and now Veronica Fish delivering a solidly illustrated and attractive comic book. There’s a lot to be discovered within the pages of Archie.
The pairing of writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples/Annie Wu/Veronica Fish have given fans a comic book worth getting excited over. Their re-imagination of the iconic characters of Riverdale fits perfectly in line with how many other comic publishers have handled their near mythic properties. Yet, Archie Comics re-imagination feels closer in tone to the original series and has maintained the heart of what came before.
And you do want to know more about the #lipstickincident, right?
What’cha Reading gives Archie Volume 1 five stars!
America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about.
Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist.
Brought to you by some of the masters of the comic book genre, including writer Mark Waid and the all-star lineup of artists: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu and Veronica Fish, the first volume of ARCHIE presents readers with a new take on the beloved Archie Comics concepts while retaining the best elements from the company’s 75 years of history.
ARCHIE VOL. 1 collects ARCHIE #1-6 and features bonus content including scripts, sketches, variant covers and the full first issue of the all new JUGHEAD series by acclaimed writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Erica Henderson.
Script: Mark Waid
Art: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish, Andre Szymanowicz, Jen Vaughn, Jack Morelli
Cover: Fiona Staples
176 pp, Full Color
Direct Market On-Sale Date: 3/9
Book Market On-Sale Date: 3/29