The headliner of The Archies #3 is definitely a guest appearance from Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty from Scottish indie synthpop band Chvrches leading to some intense starstruck moments from Archie and Betty while Jughead continues to look for food. However, writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms don’t let one of the coolest current bands hog the spotlight and continue to focus on the dynamic between the Archies. Jughead kind of nails it when he mentions that he, Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie are used to spending a lot of time together because Riverdale is a small town, but not 24/7 in various cities as a band. Staying in close quarters plus creative differences and a dollop of disaster and geeking out creates the plot and conflict of The Archies #3.
Band with multiple members who write their own songs and are multi-instrumentalists can be some of the best with the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac immediately coming to mind. However, The Beatles broke up after 10 years, and Fleetwood Mac have shuffled lineups over the past five decades with members like Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, and of course, Stevie Nicks doing solo or side projects and coming back to their original band ad nauseam. Add ego to the mix, and it’s even worse, which is why The Smiths will likely never reunite, and Morrissey will continue to make terrible solo albums.
The Archies experience some of these bands’ same issues in The Archies #3 when they nervously interact with the host on their first radio spot and end up playing a song Betty wrote while on tour instead of the single that Archie wanted. Combined with Betty and Archie’s romantic/friend history, it’s a super awkward moment and one of the tensest of the series. Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma spend most of the issue exploring the fallout with Archie off doing his own thing at the record and comic book store while Betty tries to wrangle the band together. Between the lines, they look at the gendered criticism of a male artist being aloof and hard to work with getting the title of tortured artist while female artists get referred to as “divas”. The appearance of Chvrches in this issue works out for story purposes as well as general wish fulfillment because they trade off lead vocals between Lauren Mayberry and Iain Cook depending on the song and share all writing credits. There’s something the Archies could learn about synergy from them.
Matt Herms creates a terrific energy in The Archies #3’s opening splash page of Chvrches performing before an enthusiastic crowd. And then he turns off the epicness and goes for more bright and kooky as the Archies struggle through a radio interview/performance. Herms’ colors matches Joe Eisma’s art style, which ranges from divine (Any time Chvrches hits the stage) to slapstick-y (Jughead eating food, Reggie messing around with his base). They believe in the beauty of music as well as in the soapy drama of Riverdale teens and somehow mash it together in a way that isn’t dissonant. The gigs are sublime, and the in-between bits are breezy slice of life drama with lots of hijinks. The Archies are definitely not big stars even though they do have a bit of buzz.
Even though The Archies is named after him, Matthew Rosenberg, Alex Segura, Joe Eisma, and Matt Herms take the onus off Archie for bit in The Archies #3 and give Betty some time in the sun as a POV character. They use the feud between Archie and Betty to explore the gender dynamics in bands and also weave in an extended appearance from Chvrches that is both fun fanservice, a chance for Eisma to channel his inner Jamie McKelvie, and is thematically relevant making The Archies #3 the best issue of the series so far.
Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms
Story: 8.7 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review