When 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 second 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.
Indeed, 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