For a comic book publisher that has unleashed everything from zombies to assassination attempts on its main characters over the past decade, Archie Comics is taking it next level with an upcoming story arc.
Set in current, ongoing continuity as part of its flagship "Archie" title, superstar writer Mark Waid and new series artist Pete Woods are teasing that a main character will die in the "Over the Edge" storyline, which begins on May 17 in "Archie" #20.
CBR connected with Waid and Wood, who shared details about what to expect in the three-issue storyline including how long and deep cuts will run in Riverdale when the dust settles. And which characters will be cut longest and deepest.
Woods also shared his thoughts on joining the creative team, his history with the characters and his technique for drawing fast and not-so-fast cars while Waid revealed his own 'dark' past getting behind the wheel as an under-ager on the open road.
CBR: While both of you have a shared history telling stories with Superman, I don't believe that you've actually worked together before. What is the secret origin of this creative collaboration?
Mark Waid: It was really the machinations of editor and company president Mike Pellerito. He's had his eye on Pete for a while, and I was thrilled to have him aboard.
Pete Woods: Yup. Like Mark said -- no conspiracy, just a good editor!
Mark, we know all about your history with Archie Comics but Pete, were you a fan of Archie and the Riverdale Gang growing up?
Woods: When I was a kid, I read every comic I could get my hands on, and the "Archie" books were a big part of that. When I'd read through my own stack, I'd sneak my sister's copies of Betty and Veronica and read them.
It's not superheroes, which you have drawn sensationally for the past 20 years, so what drew you to Archie Comics for this assignment?
Woods: There's a ton of reasons why I jumped at the chance to work on Archie. I've always been a fan of Mark, so getting the opportunity to work with him was huge. I've also been a fan of the new "Archie" series since I read the first issue, and it was exciting to be offered the opportunity to be part of it. The place the characters hold in comic history is also a big draw. Everyone knows who Archie is, whether they're a comic fan or not.
Mark, "Archie" #20 was going to be something entirely different but last month the solicitations changed and you tweeted that you, straight up, came up with a much, much better idea. We've read the new solicitations, but for those who haven't, what's your much, much better idea?
Waid: High stakes. Consequences to actions. "Archie" #20 brings the eternal Archie/Reggie rivalry to a new place – and it's not pleasant for anyone in the cast. A drag race gone wrong leads to one of the kids – an important one! – rocketing off a cliff at an ungodly speed, and all of Riverdale High has to deal with the dark repercussions.
What is it about Reggie Mantle that makes him a perfect foil for Archie Andrews, not only in the "Over the Edge" storyline but in a majority of Archie's adventures over the past 75 years?
Waid: I think what served him for decades was that he was just purely evil. There wasn't any attempt to explain why, and I was fine with that. As I am fond of saying, I don't care why the Grinch stole Christmas. I just want to see how the Grinch stole it. Paradoxically for good storytelling, some characters – like J. Jonah Jameson – are at their best when they're borderline two-dimensional cartoons.
That said, we've been seeding scenes in previous issues that give the New Riverdale Reggie some depth as that approach fits better with what we've been doing and there's a lot more to learn about him. Possibly posthumously.
Yikes! The solicitation for "Over the Edge" does tease 'mortal danger' and that "one of the kids looks death in the eye – and death doesn't blink." Is someone really going to die?
Waid:Now you're asking me to reveal way too much. You're just going to have to trust me. This story will fulfill your expectations.
Okay, I'm in. "The Fate of the Furious" enjoyed massive numbers its weekend. What is it that people love about fast cars?
Waid: Freedom. Flouting the rules. My uncle dabbled in racecar driving and put me behind the wheel at a blatantly illegal age. It was rural Alabama in the 1960s, so no one cared. [Laughs] It's just such a rush. At that speed, you are wholly and totally in control of your life and death in a way like no other. And way, way to his credit, Pete brings that out beautifully in what is, traditionally, a medium not well-suited to car races.
Pete, have you been looking at any specific car models for inspiration for this story arc?
Woods: Most of the cars in the Archie series have already been established, but Mark wanted to make sure we get a '69 Mustang Mach 1 Cobra in there. Whenever Archie's clunker appears, I look at a model of an '86 Mazda RX7.
I'm not great at drawing cars freehand so I use a tool called Sketchup to position 3D models how I want them and then draw based on that reference. It's a bit easier than the old school way of buying a Hot Wheels or a plastic model and then holding that up in one hand while drawing with the other.
Betty Cooper and Dilton Doiley are both big 'gearheads' – as we just saw in "Archie" #18. Do they play a role in the "Over the Edge" story arc?
Waid: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Oh, yes.
Does this new direction, courtesy of your much, much better idea, mean that the budding romance between Betty and Dilton has run its course or will it continue?
Waid: Oh, it's still there, still progressing but like everything else in Riverdale, it's about to hit a nasty curve.
And what about Veronica? She's just returned from Switzerland. Has Archie lost interest in her already and now has time to worry about street races?
Waid:Exactly the opposite. Archie is, by nature, way too responsible a kid to get into a street race but it's the speedbumps in his relationship with post-Switzerland Ronnie that gets him mixed up in this in the first place. That, and his temper, which really only comes out when Reggie gets under his skin.
Going back to the original solicitation for "Archie" #20, it was supposed to feature Cheryl Blossom going on the warpath, and her target was going to surprise us. Are we still going to get more Cheryl in the pages of "Archie"?
Waid: Oh, of course. She and her brother Jason are way too valuable to the cast, especially now that they’ve learned the secrets… I don't want to spoil it!
"Archie" #20 by Mark Waid and Pete Wood goes on sale May 17.