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KJ Apa Talks his First Gibson

Gibson TV is the iconic guitar maker’s all-original video network. It’s been running an interesting series called “My First Gibson” where artists tell the story of how they acquired their first Gibson guitar.

Riverdale star KJ Apa is a guest on the show talking about how he became a fan of Angus Young and Gibson’s SG guitar. KJ Apa is known for his role as Archie Andrews on the CW drama series Riverdale.

Catch the video above to catch this crossover between comics and music.

Review: The Archies #7

Unfortunately, The Archies’ U.S. tour and status as an actual band comes to an end in The Archies #7 where writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms have them participate in a difficult battle of the bands against the world famous Josie and the Pussycats at the Hollywood Bowl. Rosenberg and Segura’s writing crackles with self-awareness beginning with starting the comic with Reggie doing a fourth wall breaking monologue/recap instead of Archie. Reggie is more of a straight shooter than the optimistic, messiah complex sporting Mr. Andrews and realizes how many chances the band has squandered throughout the series. (i.e. all the band cameos from Blondie, CHVRCHES, Tegan and Sara, and even the Monkees.) However, The Archies do rock individually, but not as a unit, which is their fatal flaw and plays a big role in the conclusion of the series plot.

Even if The Archies get dunked on by Josie and the Pussycats, Eisma and Herms show that they have an enthusiasm and energy to match their power pop sound beginning with the title page. Betty’s hair is flipping everywhere, Archie is being super earnest, Veronica is being cool as hell on keyboards and backup vocals, and even Reggie looks like he cares about hitting his bass notes. When The Archies are actually playing music, they’re pretty fantastic, but the whole interacting after the gig part is not a strong suit for them as is made evident throughout the series and even how they “break up” and react to each other after the battle of the band results. And I like how Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma play with the slice of life fantasy nature of most Archie comics during the judging stages with long pauses and nice comments to build a little suspense that the band will pull an alternate ending of Rocky and Rocky Balboa. But they don’t, and the story is better for it.

In context of the story of The Archies #7, it makes sense that Eisma draws Josie and the Pussycats like icons with big panels and stage patter plus a little of that salt of the Earth Riverdale humor to keep them relatable. Herms floods their panels with light to show that this is a band that plays stadiums and big arenas while The Archies can barely keep the local dive bar entertained. It reminded me a little bit of the way that David Mazzucchelli drew the Avengers in Daredevil: Born Again, all larger than life while Daredevil is barely able to protect his one neighborhood. And, of course, this unwinnable duel leads to the final bit of band drama, which has been the recurring theme of the series with Jughead and Veronica butting heads. Veronica even does a little bit of upward mobility and joins the Pussycats as a keyboard player in a nice nod to her appearances wearing the cat ears in Riverdale.

Even though their continued success (The fact that they got Blondie to produce their debut EP for one.) is something straight out of a cheesy feel good TV movie, Matthew Rosenberg, Alex Segura, and Joe Eisma spend The Archies #7 deconstructing underdog narratives while still have plenty of rock out splash pages. There are not nice results to The Archies’ in-fighting, and that’s solo careers even though Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma do leave the door open for future creative teams to explore The Archies’ career as they mature a little bit. (Who am I kidding? The Archie gang will be in high school forever.)

With stunning visuals, actual consequences, and a bittersweet, yet earned ending, The Archies #7 is one heck of a curtain call for this sadly short lived series.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms Letters: Jack Morelli
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Archies #5

TheArchies5.jpgIn The Archies #5, writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms don’t shy away from showing that The Archies aren’t very good and continue to only find success by having opportunities fall in their lap. Like they somehow get to play a gig with Tegan and Sara in Vancouver and get some critical feedback. However, even though The Archies continue to fail upwards, they experience some real consequences in this issue.

The band is named after Archie, but Rosenberg and Segura spend a little time on Jughead’s character this issue as he becomes filled with anger and ennui. Eisma is great at drawing anger clouds and anger lines. As the story progresses, Jughead is having much less fun, which is his only reason for being in the band. He doesn’t want a record label or to schmooze around with CHVRCHES or a hallucination of the Monkees. Jughead just wants to hang out with his friends and have a good time. But, hey, he happens to be one hell of a drummer and demonstrates it at an open mic in Vancouver where he’s completely unfazed by Tegan and Sara being impressed with his talent and jokes about their last album accidentally coming on his phone all the time. I really liked how Herms used blasts of primary colors in the background while he plays his drum solo, which acts as shorthand for his virtuosic skill along with whirling white speed lines from Eisma.

If there’s something that The Archies does great as a comic book, it’s capturing the energy (Or lack thereof.) of a live show in an intimate venue. Except for the occasional well-timed caption or quip (Like Archie’s disgust at Reggie’s spotlight hogging bass playing.), Rosenberg and Segura get out of Eisma and Herms’ way and let facial expressions, line type, panel shape, and color choice do the work. The yawns from the crowd in Vancouver who are watching The Archies open for Tegan and Sara is everyone who has rolled their eyes at an opening act trying to hard and gone back to the bar/merch tent. (Shout out to poor acoustic guitar playing rando who I saw open for Metric once.)

Then, after a beat panel, Tegan and Sara go on stage, and the crowd goes wild. Eisma also draws Tegan and Sara with a cleaner, almost Jamie McKelvie-esque line compared to the harder edges for The Archies’ performance. Also, Herms’ “lighting” for the Tegan and Sara gig is a glorious use of color and fits in with the glossier, more danceable sound of their two most recent records, Heartthrob and Love You to Death. (Give “U-Turn” a listen if you haven’t yet.) But after the initial Archie and Betty fangirling all over them reveal, Rosenberg and Segura use Tegan and Sara as givers of helpful feedback. They don’t sugarcoat the fact that The Archies are less than headliner status, but encourage them, and it’s all wholesome and happy. Bingo, the frontman of The Bingoes aka The Archies co-touring act, is probably a little frustrated about how many chances an average teen band is getting. But, in this universe, The Archies are a fine second choice if Josie and the Pussycats are already booked.

Matthew Rosenberg, Alex Segura, Joe Eisma, and Matt Herms put the titular band through the wringer in The Archies #5 and hold off on the big rock star climax for yet another issue. Eisma’s rawer line put the band’s flaws front and center, including Archie’s neverending quest for fame (His cheeks are so pinchable though.) and overflowing of negative emotions from the usually chill Jughead. There’s some real talk and feelings in this comic that could definitely fit in with some tracks on The Con.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms
Story: 8.8 Art:9.2 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Your Pal Archie #2

YourPalArchie2.jpgYour Pal Archie #2 continues to tell retro style Archie stories that are equal parts weird, funny, and utterly mundane. In the first story, Ty Templeton, Dan Parent, and Andre Szymanowicz show what All-American ginger Archie Andrews does after winning 15 million dollars in the lottery while the second one focuses on Reggie Mantle, who is behaving a bit differently than his jerk-ish self. It’s a fun reading perfect for catching the last few rays of the summer by the pool or with a milkshake that will probably pale in comparison to one of Pop Tate’s.

Unlike his portrayal in Riverdale and to a lesser extent in the Archie reboot, Templeton writes Archie as morally exemplary in the lead story of Your Pal Archie #2. Unlike his supporting cast, including Principal Weatherbee and his parents, Archie doesn’t blow his big payday on a shiny new sports car or Les Paul, but buys everyone sodas at Pop’s and just wants to chill with his friends. He seems happier to sit at a booth with Jughead, Kevin, and Betty than to come into great wealth and definitely has his life priorities in order. However, Templeton and Parent give him just a bit of neurosis when it comes to his relationship with Veronica, which he is insecure about because he think she’s only dating The main story of Your Pal Archie #2 is mostly broad, wish fulfillment comedy, but it has some class consciousness to go with its slapstick, especially in Archie and Veronica’s interactions.

Ty Templeton and Dan Parent switch things up a little bit in the second story of Your Pal Archie #2 and have Reggie be the lead character of sorts as he bullies Dilton Doiley and makes everyone even the badass mohawk sporting Moose super angry at him.  I laughed out loud at Betty’s sass face when she tries to hit on him. Betty is super underutilized in the first two issues of Your Pal Archie, and I hope she has a showcase story down the road because Templeton writes her as both independent and having feelings for Archie.

Except for some hilarious events at the end of the story, Templeton’s plot seems truncated, but it’s just a part of Your Pal Archie‘s formula of a full length lead story and a shorter second story with a cliffhanger. It’s the ultimate win win situation because you get both a serialization and closure plus a throwback story to top things off. Plus Parent and Templeton’s art is cute as hell with super memorable faces.

In Your Pal Archie #2, Ty Templeton and Dan Parent go full wacky with plots centered around millions of dollars, gourmet dining with Veronica, and a strange football injury while grounding them in a redhead who just wants to hang out with his friends and eat hot dogs with ballpark mustard. And that’s why I love Archie and the company that bears his name.

Story: Ty Templeton Art: Dan Parent
Inks: Ty Templeton Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Story: 7.7 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

 Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Archies #1

Decades before the Gorillaz, a cartoon band called the Archies topped the charts with “Sugar, Sugar”. Yes, you can have a number 1 single even if you’re cast member of a Saturday morning cartoon. But in The Archies #1 one-shot, writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms modernize the late-1960s bubblegum pop sensations into an angst-ridden, high school garage band. The (Pre-Riverdale) Archie characters were known for being an idyllic reflection of Americana, but the members of the Archies don’t really like each other too much with romantic and creative drama taking place throughout the comic. But this keeps things entertaining between Eisma’s beautiful montages. They’re also pretty pop culture savvy with Veronica reminding everyone of her preference for Sleater-Kinney over the Pet Sounds Beach Boys, or Jughead reminding Archie that the Violent Femmes were a trio.

I like to describe Joe Eisma’s art style on books like Morning Glories and Archie as “attractive human chic”. Sure, Veronica, Betty, and various Riverdale residents have killer hairstyles and great senses of style, but Eisma’s lines are more frenetic, especially when the band members are arguing or playing not the greatest. Without the obvious aid of audio, he and colorist Matt Herms make the Archies seem like a pop punk band with maybe a touch of New Wave from Veronica’s keyboards. Archie is a wannabe Billy Corgan/Jack White/Matthew Bellamy frontman/guitar hero though, especially when he records the whole band’s parts. Rosenberg and Segura write him as a music virtuoso, but as a total clueless goof when it comes to interacting with other people romantically or platonically. (Except for Jughead, who he has an easy rapport with.) This goes along with the extremely earnest facial expressions that Eisma makes him wear throughout the issue.

Joe Eisma’s wavier inking sells the comedic moments like Jughead’s constant drum stick face palming, and the utter look of defeat when he sees his friends playing in a band with “lead bassist” Reggie. (I see him as more of a Chainsmokers type though as he struts around like a douchebag and lets more talented vocalists do the heavy lifting.) Even if Archie is more erudite when it comes to music, the silly slapstick that have been a part of these comics is still intact from the moment, our favorite ginger runs into a tree on the third page or so. But the music scenes are played a little more straight with some nice red and blacks from Herms to give the gig atmosphere and show beauty coming out of the squabbling that is most of this comic.

On a plot level, The Archies #1 is a dysfunctional, coming of age band story. It’s kind of like Empire Records if the characters made music and didn’t just sling it. Rosenberg and Segura don’t bog the story down in exposition except for some occasionally humorous fourth wall breaking from Archie. (Kind of like what he does in the main Archie book written by Mark Waid.) There is a lot of unspoken subtext to the characters’ interactions especially when two of Archie’s bandmates are his ex and current girlfriend. Yeah, it’s a marvel that this comic ends in a splash page of a concert and not some kind of mock superhero/supervillain battle. Having Jughead around helps keep Archie humble, and he both keeps time as a drummer and the peace as his chill, burger loving self.

The Archies #1 is another worthy addition to the “new Riverdale” books and will make you wish that Matthew Rosenberg, Alex Segura, Joe Eisma, and Matt Herms teamed up to show the band go on tour, bicker even more, and still make solid pop rock music. (The tambourine is the hidden ingredient to their musical success.) Also, Archie Andrews, goofball popular music savant is my second favorite incarnation of him after Archie Andrews, decapitated Predator victim… (That last sentence was written with nothing but love.)

Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Archie #20

Archie20-MainCover-666x1024Right on the tail of Riverdale‘s season finale, Archie Comics keeps up their momentum with a fresh storyline in their “All-New” Archie comics. The series rebooted in early 2016, so another reboot so soon would be largely pointless. “Over the Edge” continues the story that kicked off in issue #1, but raises the stakes from will-they-won’t-they to life-or-death.

It’s clear that at least some of Riverdale‘s appeal has rubbed off on artist Pete Woods, as Archie spends several pages gratuitously shirtless while he and Betty work on his classic jalopy. Much like every other element preserved from the original comics, the jalopy gets a backstory and becomes more important to our characters than ever before. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the vilification of Reggie Mantle, Riverdale’s ultimate bad guy.

Even in his own mini-series, the final words on Reggie declare him the “prince of darkness”, and this time he’s back with an attempt to steal Archie’s car (and possibly his girl.) *Spoiler – Highlight the text to read* However, all his plans are derailed when Betty speeds in to stop the plot, and they crash into each other mid-race. “Over the Edge” truly begins when Betty and Reggie go careening off the side of Serpent Hill. The story concludes with a line-up of the possible casualties of the storyline: Archie (already marked “safe” after this issue), Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie. *End Spoiler*

Writer Mark Waid has boosted the Riverdale gang to a new level of sophistication, without losing any of their timeless appeal. This continues in “Over the Edge”, as Veronica name-checks clothing designers, Betty remains fiercely protective of her friends, Jughead drops by with a bag of half-eaten burgers and Archie himself trips his way through life both literally and metaphorically. Waid remains easily one of the best things to happen to Archie since the whole universe rebooted in his “All-New Archie #1”, and the now infamous Lipstick Incident.

Archie Comics has raised the stakes before, most notably with their “Death to Archie” storyline, as well as their duel “Married Life with Archie” stories. “Over the Edge” seems more like a classic Life with Archie story, where life or death is teased for the sake of temporary drama, although the repercussions will only cause a small ripple in the universe as we know it. “Over the Edge” kicks off a little slow, but should slam into high gear by part 2 or 3.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Pete Woods
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.0  Recommendation: Read

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Riverdale #1

riverdale1coverRiverdale #1 is a special one-shot set in the summer before the TV show’s pilot episode, and it shows what Archie, Betty, and Veronica were getting up to before Jason Blossom’s body turned up in the Sweetwater River. Each story is penned by a member of Riverdale‘s writing staff and vary in both plot and art quality. They were all tied together by Archie Comics CCO and Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The standout for me was James Dewille, Thomas Pitilli, and Andre Szymanowicz‘s Veronica story, which is a melancholy mood piece set in New York with the first canonical appearance of Hiram Lodge. He’s kind, charming, and definitely unscrupulous, but a far cry from the old, white patriarch in the original Archie comics and even the recent reboot. If the stories have anything common, it’s the overuse of narrative captions in a manner similar to Jughead’s cloying voiceover narration in the TV show.

Riverdale #1 leads off with Brian E. Paterson, Elliot Fernandez, and Thomas Chu‘s account of what Archie did all summer. Because he’s the main character of the show and a lot of these events have been teased out in the early episodes of Riverdale, there isn’t much original material beyond the fact that he misses hanging out with Betty (Who’s in L.A. for an internship.) and Jughead (Who he pushed away because he’s a terrible friend.). It feels a lot like what would happen if Marvel published a Rey or Finn ongoing comic set between Episode VII and Episode VIII; you either retread old stories or spoil the show/movie before it comes out. Because of these constraints Paterson and Fernandez are in a corner and don’t do much to get out of it beyond an unintentionally hilarious scene where Archie goes from a Dan Parent drawing to “hot Archie” in a few panels. His lust for Miss Grundy and passion for music are spelled out in the narrative/dialogue, but the art is so generic and doesn’t captures his emotions about these things.

Britta Lundin, Jim Towe, and Glenn Whitmore’s Betty story is an improvement on the Archie one. We get to see Betty off on her own as an intern in L.A. helping with a book signing for Toni Morrison because as far as realism goes this universe makes La La Land look like The Wire. There are even some short interactions with her sister Polly, and they have a warm, friendly vibe, especially when discussing their various crushes. (Betty went out with a guy in L.A., but didn’t take it too far because she is still pining for Archie.) Betty is a smart, driven young woman, who know what she wants and even returns to Riverdale against her mother’s wishes. This character trait added by Lundin adds to how great (and occasionally ruthless.) she is as a character in the show. Towe’s art is serviceable with some beautiful Southern California vistas although his female characters all look alike no matter their age.

Dewille, Pitilli (Who filled in on some issues of the regular Archie title), and Szymanowicz riverdaleoneshot-23capture the pre-Riverdale Veronica, who oozes privilege until it all crashes and burns around her raven tresses. The first pages of the story are “Rich Kids of Instagram” the comic although Pitilli’s scratchy inking shows that Veronica’s perfect life is about to crumble. The story is an elegy to being shallow, rich, and having surface level friendships as Veronica’s world unravels in a single, sad montage. Dewille hangs back with the narration and lets Pitilli and Szymanowicz’s beautiful art and the progressive darkening of the color palette. This story is a sturdy foundation for Veronica tossing aside her spoiled, privileged roots and becoming a decent human being and friend in the Riverdale show.

Even if Will Ewing’s plotline is just rehashing the bits and pieces of Jughead’s backstory we’ve seen in the Riverdale show, the Jughead story in Riverdale #1 easily has the cleanest and best art courtesy of veteran penciler Alitha Martinez (World of Wakandaand Bob SmithIt’s sharp and evocative just like the films that he projects at the Starlight Drive-In. Ewing’s script lets Jughead be a little self-aware and sardonic to go with his brooding sadness as he admits that he’s not really a writer early on in the comic. Plus he eats burgers non-stop, including for breakfast. And, if anything, the Jughead story reveals that Archie is a terrible friend with Martinez and Smith showing him slowly choose hanging out with random girls over his best friend in a wistful montage. It’s sad to say that the Jughead/Archie relationship was broken long before Miss Grundy entered the picture.

Like a lot of media tie-ins, Riverdale #1 has its ups and downs. The Archie story is definitely a downer. However, the Veronica story is a little bit like an early Lana Del Rey song (Especially the pop art portrait of Marilyn Monroe in the Lodges’ mansion.), and Alitha Martinez is a talented artist so this book is definitely worth flipping through if you’re a fan of the show.

Story: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Brian E Paterson, Britta Lundin, James Dewille, Will Ewing Art: Elliot Fernandez, Jim Towe, Thomas Pitilli, Alitha Martinez, Bob Smith Colors: Thomas Chu, Glenn Whitmore, Andre Szymanowicz
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Archie #2

archie002When it was announced that Archie would be rebooted, probably a lot of comic readers did not really know what to expect.  First among there reactions was likely that they were keen to check out the new series, at least as is evident by its critical success, but also some probably questioned just how it would be possible to reimagine the characters that have been playing the same gag more or less for several decades.  The first issue detailed a little bit exactly how the series would go about doing so, essentially with a mild makeover of several characters, still mostly their old selves, but plunked into a world much more like our own.  Milton is still cartoonishly eggheaded and Moose is still a little slow on the uptake, but mostly the characters felt like they might fit in the real world.  While change was somewhat expected for the characters, it felt less like an overhaul though and more like an update.

While the first issue threw the reader into this updated world, it did so with a lot of tricks that won might expect from a teen movie, with a breakup of the school’s favorite couple, a rigged vote for homecoming king and queen, and various other little details that one would expect from something sticking close to the script.  It was a fresh reboot, but still something that has been seen before.  This betty001second issue continues with much of the same to some degree, Archie’s hijinks while trying for employment, a common characteristic of the old Archie, is still here, as are other factors which might have played out in the old Archie.  While there is some of the old, there is actually a lot more of the new that one might not expect from this series, and specifically as it relates to two of the main characters, Jughead and Betty.  Jughead’s back story, and the story of how he got his name, is one which adds a surprising amount of depth to this new story, but is is Betty’s that really elevates this story even farther.  The tomboyish “girl-next-door” is forced into getting ready for her birthday party, in a montage which allows the reader to truly empathize with her.  Whether or not any of the readers have ever really put on false eyelashes or not or other facets of getting made up, the reader still feels the same discomfort that Betty does being forced out of her comfort zone.  Later as she is putting the finishing touches on her nails, her true nature comes out as well, in what essentially becomes one of the most defining moments for the character in her entire publication history.

betty002Indeed, part of the problem of the series has always been that of Betty and Veronica, best friends that fight over the single boy.  It is an anachronistic idea which while it is true to the character’s backgrounds, is also a bit demeaning to them.  This issue gives a fresh take on the characters and updates them not only to modern day, but actually makes the female characters into real people in a way that is revitalizing other series and female characters across the medium.  With just the hint of a look at Veronica it is promising that this new Archie is not only something old, or something recycled, but also something new for the medium, and not only something new, but even something progressive, with a message stronger than teenagers need to have fun, but that they can also be presented as humans with their own intricate problems.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Fiona Staple
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

The Lipstick Incident and a Short History of Lipstick in Comics


Captain Marvel, maybe wearing “Cherries in the Snow” or “Toast of New York”?

Lipstick is one of the strangest objects when it comes to comic book characters, specifically its female characters.  If one looks at an average female character, the color of their lips is almost always one which could be achieved by women in the real world only with lipstick.  On the other hand, the modern female character almost never actually applies any lipstick, or at least is not seen to be.  Normal lipsticks would be at least smeared in basic fistfights, and would be subject to all kinds of weird forces from other superpowers.  Imagine Captain Marvel flying at super speeds while wearing lipstick.  Lipstick is basically a thick wax or oil applied to the lips, and it is hard to imagine that anything resembling a liquid oil which would stay put at that speed and pressure, even if it was designed to be somewhat sticky or to stay in place.  The only times that some superheroines might be seen to be applying lipstick (or any cosmetics for that matter) is if they are going out, usually for a night on the town, under the guise of their alter egos.  These moments are rare enough though, and don’t really have any bearing on the superheroics.  The only other uses of lipstick are those as poison, primarily through the Joker and Poison Ivy.  Strictly put lipstick does not exist in comics except as it applies to something else, and never to superheroics.  It is always on but never put on.

lipstick001There is an exception to the lipstick question in comics though, and that is through the role of romance comics.  This is perhaps the flip side of the argument, because as opposed to being rarely shown, it is quite often shown.  In the old time comics, lipsticks were often shown, but more so their application was used as a setting in themselves, as many lovestruck girls wondered into their vanity mirrors whether they should be date Darren or Brad, or whether Tom next door would ever find the courage to ask them out.  The role of romance comics was so strong as to infiltrate even superhero comics, as the Lois Lane series from the 1960s was primarily focused around the same concepts as romance comics.  Romance comics have obviously come and gone from the mainstream of the comic medium, even if there seems to be a minor resurgence underway.  The last major romance comics with any following were the major holdovers from the earlier days into the early to mid 1970s, with series such as Young Romance or Secret Hearts holding out until the end that a resurgence was coming.  The only remaining stalwart in the romance department has been Archie Comics, who have managed to continue their long run in romance by infusing it with a healthy dose of humor.  Nonetheless lipstick has often shown up in these comics in modern years, as they often have a feminine enough approach while also focusing on the romantic side of teenage life.

lipstick004This all ties together to make the new Archie series all the more interesting.  After a long run it was finally decided to reboot Archie with a new look and modified background into a new series.  Apparently gone is the focus on humor, to be replaced instead with a focus on storytelling.  Things are not looking as good for some of them, as Archie and Betty are facing a rocky road after a long time dating.  What made them break up?  No one knows yet, not the characters inside the book, nor the readers outside, but there is one clue, which is incidentally one which the company has cleverly used to create its own buzz, #lipstickincident.  It is not exactly clear what this is, although there are several mentions of the incident throughout the issue, as various characters react to the news and and speculate as to reasons and meanings.  While it is interesting as a hashtag, it is also interesting as it throws an otherwise unknown or ignored item to the forefront of comic books, at least for a short time.  It might not be as engaging as trying to guess the identity of Thor, but lipstick is being used to explain the tumultuous times in a relationship for two of comics’ longest running sweethearts.

Review: Archie #666

archie666The importance of Archie Andrews to comics is often understated, even if it shouldn’t be.  For a long while in the history of the medium, it was the romance genre which ruled, and although most of them have come and gone (or changed into something else) Archie is still here from a time and place that makes him almost an anachronism.  Those that know of Archie most likely know of him from comics that they read when they were young, and while people look for edgier comics when they get older, the creative teams behind Archie have tried to keep the character modern and relevant.  A lot of this has to do with updating the character, putting phones and computers into the somewhat similar formula from issue to issue.  The next big change for Archie comes following this issue, as there will be no #667, but rather a new reboot into a new #1.

This is an interesting development in itself, as Archie has been published almost as long as some of the other greats of the genre, with other long running series like Detective Comics and Action Comics getting just past 700 issue before being rebooted.  In this case it is a chance to reminisce as Archie is facing his 666th detention and Weatherbee debates whether or not to expel him (as a side note most high school students don’t have 600 days of class in high school, so when Weatherbee says it is a Guiness record, he might be right.)  This allows his friends to commiserate and to figure out why Archie has been so important to them over the years, which is a bit of meta-writing to describe what the fans themselves might think.

While this issue does not have the same weight as other issues might which have ended a long run, it still manages to get right what it must.  At the same time, this is still very much an Archie story, and those looking for something more will likely be disappointed here.  All the same this represents a little piece of comic history and one that probably won’t get its due.

Story:  Tom DeFalco Art: Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz, Tim Kennedy, and Pat Kennedy 
Story: 7.8 Art: 7.8  Overall: 7.8  Recommendation: Read  

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

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