In 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