Tomorrow sees the release of the first Archie #1 in over seventy years, as Mark Waid and Fiona Staples reboot the franchise. As you might have expected with creators like Waid and Staples, the end result is a thoughtful, entertaining debut with excellent artwork. If you are going to reboot a franchise, there are few creators that you would be better off with trusting with the exercise. What is particularly impressive with the first issue is how it manages to be a throwback to the early days of Archie without allowing the nostalgic aspect of the book to become a distraction with the actual story itself. In other words, this is a book that pays tribute to its forebears with only the slightest of nods and spends the majority of the tale updating the main characters in such a fashion that it would fit in with an Archie tale from nearly any year while still working primarily as an Archie tale for the year 2015. No one got an update for the sake of getting an update. Characters are just given considerate re-envisionings. It’s a great first issue.
The plot for the first issue is based upon the break-up of childhood sweethearts (and Riverdale High power couple) Archie (I like to call him “Chick”) Andrews and Betty Cooper. What led to their breakup remains a mystery, but what is quickly not a mystery is how much Riverdale High cares about Betty and Archie. It’s a clever way by Waid to introduce us to the large crowd of supporting cast members as well as let us know just how special Betty and Archie are. The other teens come up with a plot to reunite Betty and Archie at prom while Jughead has another idea.
Waid and Staples also take the first issue to introduce Archie’s interest in music. Staples does an excellent sequential job on this sequence where we see the relationship between Archie and his father (the idea of Archie’s dad being a guitarist is a clever touch by Waid)…
Staples does a wonderful job of slightly updating everyone in the comic. There really is not a whole lot to be fixed with anyone in the comic, so she doesn’t go nuts. She just modernizes everyone in a smart way. And, of course, her character work has always been a strength of hers, and that is on display in full force here, as Archie’s music dreams come true…
Personality-wise, there really isn’t much to improve on with characters like Betty, Archie and Jughead, so Waid just plays to their strengths (Jughead really shines in this issue). The book is split into chapters, which is a nice nod to the old days of comics while also making the story flow well. Waid also cleverly ends the issue with a compelling bit of “you will definitely want to see what happens next” final panel.
This was a really great start to the Archie reboot. Highly recommended.
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