Tag Archives: veronica lodge

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: Betty and Veronica Vixens #3

The story picks up a little bit in Betty and Veronica Vixens #3 as the Vixens hit up their first biker bar and get in a fight with some Neo-Nazis  courtesy of writer Jamie Lee Rotante, artist Eva Cabrera, and colorist Elaina Unger. It’s a hell of a cold open, and part of the big picture conflict between the Vixens riding bikes and looking cool and rebellious and them actually righting wrongs in the world. In an admirable move, Rotante and Cabrera don’t give a clear answer to this. The Vixens care very much about their friend/motorcycle guru Bubbles, whose boyfriend got beat up and lost her bike to the Southside Serpents, and also punch Nazis, but they also do random things like knock over trash cans and retaliate for being charged too much for chewing gum.

Who knew that color palettes could be so funny? But I laughed out loud when I turned the page from a grimy Neo-Nazi bar scene to the lush, primary color world of Riverdale High River Vixen practice thanks to Unger’s work at showing the clash between the Vixens’ old life as cheerleader and new life as bike riding vigilantes. Even though most of the girls and their antagonists wear black and white, Rotante and Cabrera give them pops of personality with different hair styles and color like Evelyn’s rebel blond and Betty’s All-American locks. But, as exhibited in her work on both volumes of Kim and Kim, Eva Cabrera’s real talent is action, and the lack of choreography and martial arts background from the Vixens is a kind of choreography on its own as Toni Topaz’s lands a blood splattering hook on a racist Nazi’s jaw.  On a more subtle level, there’s a great two panel sequence where Ethel realizes that the guys she’s been making small talk with are white supremacists, and there’s a look of terror on her face as it seems like the Vixens might be a little over their heads. (I did have issues telling Midge and Ethel apart throughout the comic.)

In Betty and Veronica Vixens #3, Jamie Lee Rotante continues to use a non-linear narrative interspersing high adrenaline biker girl scenes with less exciting flashback scenes that show how the gang came to be with their first vigilante exploits and a lot of issues with communication and coordination. Seriously, with school, extracurriculars, and possibly part time jobs, it’s really hard to get a bunch of high (or the opposite in Evelyn’s case) achieving high schoolers in the same place at the same time. At this point in the flashbacks, the gang is like Batman in his makeshift ninja costume falling off fire escapes, but they’ll be the opening splash page soon. There’s even a nifty training montage/double page spread.

Betty and Veronica Vixens #3 has solid action, team-building, and raises the stakes storywise while spending most of its story time on the Vixens members while those losers Archie, Jughead (Okay, him not so much.) , and Reggie are nowhere to be found. Jamie Lee Rotante, Eva Cabrera, and Elaina Unger continue to break the mold of Riverdale stories centered around love triangles and replace them a story of female friendship and Nazi punching.

Story: Jamie Lee Rotante Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Elaina Unger
Story: 8 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Betty and Veronica Vixens #3

The story picks up a little bit in Betty and Veronica Vixens #3 as the Vixens hit up their first biker bar and get in a fight with some Neo-Nazis  courtesy of writer Jamie Lee Rotante, artist Eva Cabrera, and colorist Elaina Unger. It’s a hell of a cold open, and part of the big picture conflict between the Vixens riding bikes and looking cool and rebellious and them actually righting wrongs in the world. In an admirable move, Rotante and Cabrera don’t give a clear answer to this. The Vixens care very much about their friend/motorcycle guru Bubbles, whose boyfriend got beat up and lost her bike to the Southside Serpents, and also punch Nazis, but they also do random things like knock over trash cans and retaliate for being charged too much for chewing gum.

Who knew that color palettes could be so funny? But I laughed out loud when I turned the page from a grimy Neo-Nazi bar scene to the lush, primary color world of Riverdale High River Vixen practice thanks to Unger’s work at showing the clash between the Vixens’ old life as cheerleader and new life as bike riding vigilantes. Even though most of the girls and their antagonists wear black and white, Rotante and Cabrera give them pops of personality with different hair styles and color like Evelyn’s rebel blond and Betty’s All-American locks. But, as exhibited in her work on both volumes of Kim and Kim, Eva Cabrera’s real talent is action, and the lack of choreography and martial arts background from the Vixens is a kind of choreography on its own as Toni Topaz’s lands a blood splattering hook on a racist Nazi’s jaw.  On a more subtle level, there’s a great two panel sequence where Ethel realizes that the guys she’s been making small talk with are white supremacists, and there’s a look of terror on her face as it seems like the Vixens might be a little over their heads. (I did have issues telling Midge and Ethel apart throughout the comic.)

In Betty and Veronica Vixens #3, Jamie Lee Rotante continues to use a non-linear narrative interspersing high adrenaline biker girl scenes with less exciting flashback scenes that show how the gang came to be with their first vigilante exploits and a lot of issues with communication and coordination. Seriously, with school, extracurriculars, and possibly part time jobs, it’s really hard to get a bunch of high (or the opposite in Evelyn’s case) achieving high schoolers in the same place at the same time. At this point in the flashbacks, the gang is like Batman in his makeshift ninja costume falling off fire escapes, but they’ll be the opening splash page soon. There’s even a nifty training montage/double page spread.

Betty and Veronica Vixens #3 has solid action, team-building, and raises the stakes storywise while spending most of its story time on the Vixens members while those losers Archie, Jughead (Okay, him not so much.) , and Reggie are nowhere to be found. Jamie Lee Rotante, Eva Cabrera, and Elaina Unger continue to break the mold of Riverdale stories centered around love triangles and replace them a story of female friendship and Nazi punching.

Story: Jamie Lee Rotante Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Elaina Unger
Story: 8 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Betty and Veronica Vixens #1

Betty and Veronica: Vixens #1 is part feminist critique of the patriarchy values of traditional (and some) Archie comics and part an excuse for artist Eva Cabrera (Kim and Kim) to draw badass girls on motorcycles beginning with breathtaking double page spread featuring plenty of black leather from colorist Elaina Unger. Writer Jamie Lee Rotante begins her tale in media res with a face-off between Betty and Veronica’s girl gang and the Southside Serpents before plunging into the origin story of how the rich girl and girl next door ended up becoming badass biker chicks.

By starting with bikes and attitude, Rotante, Unger, and Cabrera give readers a hook into the world of Betty and Veronica: Vixens before going back to the more traditional, pastel-y colors of the Archie universe where Betty keeps getting stood up by Archie, and Veronica escapes her privileged lifestyle by riding motorcycles with Reggie. However, the boys don’t really matter compared to Betty and Veronica, who drive the story unlike the previous book co-starring them, which had some nice pinup art, but mad the unfortunate choice of having Hot Dog as the narrator. Betty and Veronica: Vixens truly has a sleek modern style of storytelling with spare dialogue during action sequences and clean choreography with Rotante saving her words for enjoyable tete-a-tete’s between Betty and Veronica trying to find their identity in the white patriarchy of Riverdale and eventually deciding to take matters into their own hands.

Rotante plays with and challenges the traditional stereotypes of these two characters, and by extension, women in the Western world, and I can’t wait to see her take on the other women of Riverdale. (And Greendale: fingers crossed for a Sabrina appearance.) The traditional Archie narrative has been Betty and Veronica vying for the ginger goofball, but he’s dead weight in this comic and a wannabe poser, who can barely start his hog. (So many double entendres to unpack there, and in this comic in general.) They are the ones taking the active role against the Southside Serpents while the guys of Riverdale just make a lot of noise verbally and vehicularly, which is dismissed by Betty as “mating rituals” like they’re apes, who happen to wear clothes. This is definitely the Betty and Veronica show, and for once, the cold open and then crazy flashback structure doesn’t annoy me as I’m intrigued how two high school girls recruit and train a gang of badass motorcycle riders that talk trash and back it up with the aid of some handy brass knuckles because Rotante and Cabrera like to indulge in all the tropes.

The icing on the cupcake of the fantastic comic that is Betty and Veronica: Vixens is Eva Cabrera’s fantastic eye for fashion and aesthetic as evidenced by her previous work on the two Kim and Kim minis. Her styles are the comic book equivalent of “ready to wear” with the sleek, black styles of the girl gang fitting in with the fluid opening of the book, and her starchy late-80s teen movie look for Betty and Veronica working with the flashback, forced into gender roles part. Elaina Unger’s accentuate the styles with pastels for Betty and darker, earth tones for Veronica until they go all black everything in the motorcycle gang.

Towards the end of 2017, it seems like Archie Comics is going the “Elseworlds” approach with their non-flagship books, and Betty and Veronica: Vixens is a shining example of how this type of philosophy can be successful with quick one-liners and feminist critiques from writer Jamie Lee Rotante,  easy to read and stylish storytelling from artist Eva Cabrera, and a varied color palette from Elaina Unger that ranges from Rebel without a Cause to the suburban bits of Edward Scissorhands.

Story: Jamie Lee Rotante Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Elaina Unger
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Archies #2

If The Archies #1 was the band’s origin story, The Archies #2 is all about life on the road, and writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms nail the intrinsic drama filled dynamic of The Archies in the issue’s title page. Archie is driving the van and narrating at the audience, Betty is actually doing the work and looking under the hood, Jughead and Reggie are arguing, and Veronica is on her phone. One image, and we get the band’s dynamic that Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma play off for the rest of the issue as the journey to The Archies’ first gig isn’t a smooth one.

However, like classic Archie comics, The Archies #2 is pure wish fulfillment albeit with stylish art and classy colors from Eisma and Herms and some references to cool bands and artists like Father John Misty. And honestly, it was kind of be boring if Veronica’s dad bailed them out all the time and gave a band that should be sleeping in their van or scrimping to get a fleabag hotel, five star accommodations. Rosenberg and Segura spend the whole first half of the comic milking the dramatic potential of five teenage frenemies sharing close quarters after kicking it MTV Cribs style in a double page spread of them enjoying the fruits of Mr. Lodge’s AmEx. But Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma are wise to not have them experience too much fame too quickly even though they coincidentally keep getting breaks because this is truly a fantasy comic. It’s the pop rock daydreams of you and your friends and maybe that guy you hate on bass starting a band, playing dive bars, and getting famous somehow.

In The Archies #2, Joe Eisma goes for more silly physical comedy with his artwork than the immaculate style and melodrama of his work on Archie with Mark Waid. However, Veronica still has a fantastic wardrobe, and there’s an entire panel dedicated to her picking out an outfit for the gig. But Eisma gets smiles and giggles from the Archies just reacting to the brave new world around them like a super tired Betty rubbing her eyes after practically willing their fan to get to New Jersey, or Veronica practically exploding Then, there’s Reggie strutting and preening in the mirror and wearing a Blur shirt that I seriously need. (Although I pegged Reggie as more of a Liam Gallagher fan.)

The plot of The Archies #2 is a fairly standard young band’s rise to glory story, but Joe Eisma’s gesture cartooning and Herms’ flashes of colors give each band member a fun, quirky personality. Also, it definitely feels like that this comic was made with love for indie music and bands out there living the struggle so The Archies #2 is a book you can give to your grandma, who grew up chuckling at the Archie comics back in the day or to your hipster friends, who might smirk at it and then longingly remember when they though they could be the next post-synth-indie-dream pop sensation. (That’s my not so professional approximation of The Archies’ sound.)

Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms
Story: 8.2 Art: 9 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Betty and Veronica Vixens #1

Betty and Veronica: Vixens #1 is part feminist critique of the patriarchy values of traditional (and some) Archie comics and part an excuse for artist Eva Cabrera (Kim and Kim) to draw badass girls on motorcycles beginning with breathtaking double page spread featuring plenty of black leather from colorist Elaina Unger. Writer Jamie Lee Rotante begins her tale in media res with a face-off between Betty and Veronica’s girl gang and the Southside Serpents before plunging into the origin story of how the rich girl and girl next door ended up becoming badass biker chicks.

By starting with bikes and attitude, Rotante, Unger, and Cabrera give readers a hook into the world of Betty and Veronica: Vixens before going back to the more traditional, pastel-y colors of the Archie universe where Betty keeps getting stood up by Archie, and Veronica escapes her privileged lifestyle by riding motorcycles with Reggie. However, the boys don’t really matter compared to Betty and Veronica, who drive the story unlike the previous book co-starring them, which had some nice pinup art, but mad the unfortunate choice of having Hot Dog as the narrator. Betty and Veronica: Vixens truly has a sleek modern style of storytelling with spare dialogue during action sequences and clean choreography with Rotante saving her words for enjoyable tete-a-tete’s between Betty and Veronica trying to find their identity in the white patriarchy of Riverdale and eventually deciding to take matters into their own hands.

Rotante plays with and challenges the traditional stereotypes of these two characters, and by extension, women in the Western world, and I can’t wait to see her take on the other women of Riverdale. (And Greendale: fingers crossed for a Sabrina appearance.) The traditional Archie narrative has been Betty and Veronica vying for the ginger goofball, but he’s dead weight in this comic and a wannabe poser, who can barely start his hog. (So many double entendres to unpack there, and in this comic in general.) They are the ones taking the active role against the Southside Serpents while the guys of Riverdale just make a lot of noise verbally and vehicularly, which is dismissed by Betty as “mating rituals” like they’re apes, who happen to wear clothes. This is definitely the Betty and Veronica show, and for once, the cold open and then crazy flashback structure doesn’t annoy me as I’m intrigued how two high school girls recruit and train a gang of badass motorcycle riders that talk trash and back it up with the aid of some handy brass knuckles because Rotante and Cabrera like to indulge in all the tropes.

The icing on the cupcake of the fantastic comic that is Betty and Veronica: Vixens is Eva Cabrera’s fantastic eye for fashion and aesthetic as evidenced by her previous work on the two Kim and Kim minis. Her styles are the comic book equivalent of “ready to wear” with the sleek, black styles of the girl gang fitting in with the fluid opening of the book, and her starchy late-80s teen movie look for Betty and Veronica working with the flashback, forced into gender roles part. Elaina Unger’s accentuate the styles with pastels for Betty and darker, earth tones for Veronica until they go all black everything in the motorcycle gang.

Towards the end of 2017, it seems like Archie Comics is going the “Elseworlds” approach with their non-flagship books, and Betty and Veronica: Vixens is a shining example of how this type of philosophy can be successful with quick one-liners and feminist critiques from writer Jamie Lee Rotante,  easy to read and stylish storytelling from artist Eva Cabrera, and a varied color palette from Elaina Unger that ranges from Rebel without a Cause to the suburban bits of Edward Scissorhands.

Story: Jamie Lee Rotante Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Elaina Unger
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: The Archies #2

If The Archies #1 was the band’s origin story, The Archies #2 is all about life on the road, and writers Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, artist Joe Eisma, and colorist Matt Herms nail the intrinsic drama filled dynamic of The Archies in the issue’s title page. Archie is driving the van and narrating at the audience, Betty is actually doing the work and looking under the hood, Jughead and Reggie are arguing, and Veronica is on her phone. One image, and we get the band’s dynamic that Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma play off for the rest of the issue as the journey to The Archies’ first gig isn’t a smooth one.

However, like classic Archie comics, The Archies #2 is pure wish fulfillment albeit with stylish art and classy colors from Eisma and Herms and some references to cool bands and artists like Father John Misty. And honestly, it was kind of be boring if Veronica’s dad bailed them out all the time and gave a band that should be sleeping in their van or scrimping to get a fleabag hotel, five star accommodations. Rosenberg and Segura spend the whole first half of the comic milking the dramatic potential of five teenage frenemies sharing close quarters after kicking it MTV Cribs style in a double page spread of them enjoying the fruits of Mr. Lodge’s AmEx. But Rosenberg, Segura, and Eisma are wise to not have them experience too much fame too quickly even though they coincidentally keep getting breaks because this is truly a fantasy comic. It’s the pop rock daydreams of you and your friends and maybe that guy you hate on bass starting a band, playing dive bars, and getting famous somehow.

In The Archies #2, Joe Eisma goes for more silly physical comedy with his artwork than the immaculate style and melodrama of his work on Archie with Mark Waid. However, Veronica still has a fantastic wardrobe, and there’s an entire panel dedicated to her picking out an outfit for the gig. But Eisma gets smiles and giggles from the Archies just reacting to the brave new world around them like a super tired Betty rubbing her eyes after practically willing their fan to get to New Jersey, or Veronica practically exploding Then, there’s Reggie strutting and preening in the mirror and wearing a Blur shirt that I seriously need. (Although I pegged Reggie as more of a Liam Gallagher fan.)

The plot of The Archies #2 is a fairly standard young band’s rise to glory story, but Joe Eisma’s gesture cartooning and Herms’ flashes of colors give each band member a fun, quirky personality. Also, it definitely feels like that this comic was made with love for indie music and bands out there living the struggle so The Archies #2 is a book you can give to your grandma, who grew up chuckling at the Archie comics back in the day or to your hipster friends, who might smirk at it and then longingly remember when they though they could be the next post-synth-indie-dream pop sensation. (That’s my not so professional approximation of The Archies’ sound.)

Story: Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Matt Herms
Story: 8.2 Art: 9 Overall: 8.6 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: 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 #17

archie17coverWhile the TV show Riverdale is all about the dark, sexy side of the iconic Archie Comics character, Archie #17 goes the quirky route like the old school comics with a shinier visual presentation courtesy of artist Joe Eisma (Morning Gloriesand colorist Andre SzymanowiczMark Waid‘s script is silly in all the best ways with Cheryl Blossom trying to seduce Archie and get revenge on Veronica because Mr. Lodge bought her father’s company, and she had to move from an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland to plain ol’ Riverdale. She is truly a terrible person as evidenced by a scene where she and Jason push over a homeless person during a walk and talk.

Waid and Eisma’s take on Archie Andrews himself is much clumsier and definitely less sexy than KJ Apa’s portrayal in the Riverdale show or the previous artwork of Fiona Staples and Veronica Fish. He has a nice jawline, but the old crosshatching and freckles are back, and most of the issue is spent with him being a general idiot and somehow ending up rolling down the road in a barrel molasses. Archie #17 is at its finest when Waid goes for screwball comedy, and characters not named Archie sigh and snark about his ridiculousness. For example, Cheryl Blossom has been building our favorite redhead as some kind of hybrid of a male model, guitar god, archie17interiorand with overdramatic dialogue and ends up being very disappointed by the end of the issue.

The comedic tone of Archie #17 extends to a zippy B-plot featuring Veronica, who uses her father’s influence at her school to be able to leave town as soon as she does all her work/finals. It’s amusing to see Veronica’s single-minded focus applied to academic work, and Eisma lays on the speed lines with papers and books flying everywhere until she finally gets to leave town. Not even Mr. Collier, the man who was humiliated by her father in a mayoral election and his draconian final project, can get in the way of her skill with fashion. Like seriously, why would making a simple man’s suit be a challenge for Riverdale’s and maybe comics’ best dressed character? It’s also nice to have Veronica be back with Archie and the gang, and her feud with Cheryl Blossom will be even more fun on Veronica’s home turf.

Even though it occasionally hits on some real teen/young people concerns, like how long is too long to wait to text someone back if you’re romantically interested in them, Archie #17 is mostly stylized wackiness from Mark Waid, Joe Eisma, and Andre Szymanowicz, who uses some overpowering reds in Cheryl Blossom’s scenes. It’s pure comedic melodramatic fun.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics  provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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