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