Truth be told I have never read an Archie comic before. And before this week I really didn’t have much interest. But this is an Archie for a new generation — and when I saw the star-studded creative team for the brand new Archie #1 I had to give it a shot.
Is it good?
Archie #1 (Archie Comics)
I love how Fiona Staples uses light in her artwork.
The new Archie opens up with some huge drama. Archie and Betty have broken up, due to a mysterious event known as the “lipstick incident.” The whole school is shocked by the break-up and Archie and Betty’s friends start to formulate machinations to reunite the power-couple.
The first thought I had before reading this comic was thus: how is an author of such sophisticated works and such accomplished series like Mark Waid going to write an Archie comic? I thought that this might have just been a money-grab on Waid’s part, knowing that he could sell thousands of copies of a #1 with his name on it, even though he wouldn’t have to really dig deep to write it. I was so wrong. There is nothing even remotely “below” Mark Waid in this comic. Waid manages to bring some awesome storytelling to the Archie universe, whilst retaining all that goofy Archie goodness. He crafts a tale that is exciting and packs emotional punch, all while seeming very organic to the Archie mythos.
One of my favorite aspects of Archie #1 was the narration. Archie walks us through the whole issue, guiding us through the school and introducing us to the characters. This makes Archie a pronounced main character, but also allows him to take a backseat in the actual story to focus on a wider array of characters. Coming out of this issue I really felt like I knew Archie and could understand his side of the conflict, much like I would if I were able to actually meet the character in real life and hear him regale me with tales of teenage woe. That lifelike element gives the whole comic the feeling that it is a conflict that could realistically happen to teenagers, while also making the issue a rollicking good time.
What really struck me as different and unique about Archie #1 was it’s use of paneling to elevate the story. One example was the scene in which Archie’s friends are using their social leverage to secure votes for Archie and Betty. We only get tiny snippets of these encounters, but together in the way that the page is laid out we get a great sense of the scene and the energy seems to emanate off the page. Another example is Archie’s guitar solo which shows in rapid succession his playing of the guitar and the audience’s reaction. The sequence is dynamic and fun and allows you to feel the feelings of the room in a truly life-like way.
What can I say about the ever so talented Fiona Staples that hasn’t been said already? She is a true master at her craft. In Archie #1 she uses detailed penciling and line work to bring a new sense of personal emotion to the table. My favorite example of this brilliant emotion is when Betty is about to confront Archie but then pauses and decides not to. There were absolutely no words from either Betty or Archie, not dialogue nor monologue bubbles, yet it was totally clear what each of the characters were saying. Their body language, their facial expressions and their position in the room made the whole scene feel like something out of real life and tugged at my heart with sadness on Betty’s behalf. Truly not what you would expect to find in an Archie comic, but wonderful nonetheless.
Is It Good?
It’s great! This issue was truly the perfect way to start off an Archie series that promises to be thoughtful, dramatic and tons of fun.