I hate having to admit I have a blindspot. I especially hate having to admit to having a blindspot when it comes to the world of comics. I’d like to think that over the years Between the Panels has done a decent job at covering a variety of comics, but we can’t get to everything. Things fall through the cracks.
But I should have been paying more attention to Archie Comics.
Over the last few years, Archie has slowly been establishing themselves as a publisher to watch (killing your main protagonist to be a martyr for gay rights and gun control, Afterlife with Archie garnered great praise, and there’s guest issues planned written by a certain famous Girl will certainly do that), but with the launch of Archie #1 by the superstar creative team of Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, the publisher may have made its boldest move yet.
Comics publishers catch a lot of flak for high profile reboots or relaunches, but relaunching Archie #1 is a move that makes logical sense for the company, as Archie Comics has already defined itself for a new generation of readers. That’s certainly the book’s objective too, as Archie introduces Riverdale through a cheerful Farris Bueller style tour, laying out to us the dynamics of this world. Waid smartly recognizes that popular culture has a general understanding of who each of the main characters of the Archie world are and enjoys playing with the dynamics of the core Archie characters (one of whom is surprisingly and smartly MIA). Waid’s script accomplishes a tremendous amount in a breezy 22 pages. And while the seams of first issue setup are present, it rarely feels forced.
If Waid’s foundation is the thing that keeps things moving along, Fiona Staples provides the rest of the house. Fans of Saga will know the artist has an incredible knack at drawing visually expressive panels that often provide as much laughter as the scripts Brian K. Vaughan provides her. This skill is put to great use in Archie #1, as there are some entertaining comedic moments (most of which come from Betty), whose beats are great improved by Staples’ pencils. The inhabitants of Riverdale come to life through these pages and that liveliness already seems so essential to what makes the book tick that I’ll be sad to see her depart after the third issue.
Archie #1 comes out on the first page with a cheerful introduction, eager to bring you into this world. It’s in this execution that the title then demands your attention by being so good that you’ll think twice before you ever consider having Archie Comics in your blindspot again.