Most of us know Archie Andrews. The freckle-faced, red-headed teen from Riverdale has been a staple of grocery store checkout lines for generations, where people of all ages would enjoy (mostly) wholesome tales about Archie’s adventures with his pal Jughead and the love triangle with Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.
Recently, though, Archie Comics has gone through a phase of radical reinvention.
First there was Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie-verse. Then came “Afterlife with Archie,” an ongoing series that features the entire Archie cast facing a legitimately scary zombie apocalypse. Then, in the pages of “Life with Archie,” an alternate-universe story featuring a grown-up, married Archie — who died at the series’ end. And then there’s that 60s-era horror comic starring Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
All of these recent moves aren’t notable because they’re crazy and outrageous, but because they’re crazy and outrageous and also really shockingly good comics.
And today, Archie’s hot streak continues with the much-ballyhooed reboot of the publisher’s flagship title, “Archie” #1, by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples.
If you’re not immersed in the comics world, it’s hard to stress how huge those names are, but just look at the comic:
Archie. So hot right now.
The gorgeous art is by Fiona Staples, who works almost exclusively on “Saga” with writer Brian K. Vaughn, one of the best and most popular non-superhero comics you can read. Her updated takes on the entire Archie cast are wonderfully expressive and smartly fashionable.
Everyone is also really, really, ridiculously good looking.
Writer Mark Waid is pretty much a storytelling genius who has spent much of the last thirty years writing classic stories about almost every superhero you can think of — most recently on the can’t-miss “Daredevil” with artist Chris Samnee. In short, this is a dream team, and they deliver.
“Archie” #1 is a fantastic read and a great introduction to Archie Andrews and his world (quite literally — much of the issue features Archie breaking the fourth wall to introduce readers to everyone). It’s also further proof of how enduring the character is — really, Archie has always been a teen story where much of the comedy comes from giving its teenagers exactly what they want and gently making fun of them as they discover how things are always more complicated than they realise. It’s why the Betty/Veronica love triangle is such a cornerstone of the comics.
Speaking of Betty and Veronica, “Archie” is extremely clever in how it sets up that particular status quo. You’ll want to come back next month.
The first issue of the new “Archie” feels like the sort of teen sitcom that doesn’t get made anymore, a modern “Boy Meets World” but smarter, simpler, and hipper all at once. It’s effortlessly cool and charming, like a John Hughes movie without all the morose angst. It takes the classic Archie comics and makes them feel modern and relevant.
In short, it’s a perfect reboot that’s not just a great first Archie story, but a great first comic.
Have you ever been to Riverdale? It’s a nice place. I think I’ll stay a while.
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