There are a few things that take me straight back to my childhood: Cheerios, gospel radio stations, and Archie Comics. I ended nearly every visit to the grocery story by seeing a young man with red hair on the cover of a book in the magazine rack at the front of the checkout line and asking my mom if I could have an Archie comic to read on the ride home.
If you’re not familiar with the series, I highly recommend it; it’s been a fan favorite since the 1940s. Archie Andrews, the ginger protagonist (see Figure 1), is a student at Riverdale High, who frequently gets into comedic scrapes with his best friend, Jughead, also known as “He Who Will Eat Anything At All Times.” Much of the plot revolves around all-American girl Betty Copper and rich, waspish Veronica Lodge fighting for the attention of Archie, who in stereotypical male fashion, is unable to choose and instead enjoys the affections of both.
Blatant gender stereotypes and an inability to pass the Bechdel test aside, Archie has consistently been one of my favorite titles. Its lovable characters and entertaining plots made me snatch the Mark Waid and Fiona Staples reboot off the shelf without a second thought. I give the reboot a very solid 5 stars. For the classic heads, all of the original plot devices are there; i.e., everything that makes Archie, well…Archie, is still abundantly present. But Waid gives the characters much more to work with.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* Archie and Betty have been a couple as long as they can remember, but a dramatic break up occurs right before the wealthy and beautiful Veronica Lodge arrives in town…(I will say no more lest I spoil it.) The newly “hipster-ified” Archie and tom-boy Betty got some updating, but unfortunately, there’s only so much one can do for shallow Veronica. Nevertheless, she remains as lovable as ever. Her moments of vulnerability provide an opening for Waid to do some character development with her in the next volumes and sets up the possibility for a Betty/Veronica friendship born outside of their seemingly only commonality: Archie. Jughead being a spendthrift is now a result of his millionaire father going broke when he was young—but even in the reboot, Jughead’s uniform is not complete without a burger in hand.
In addition to the updated story line, I’m a huge fan of the new look of the Riverdale Gang. The art style reminds me of Babs Tarr’s modernized Batgirl. (I guess modernizing means turning your characters into hipsters….) Not that there’s anything wrong with that! All of the characters (with the exception of Betty) are drawn in outfits that look like they came from Urban Outfitters with chic haircuts that would please even the pickiest YouTube fashion vlogger. Archie is a far cry from his original moussed hair look and argyle sweater vests, but the look works.
Many folks can’t stand change; why mess with something that’s already getting it right? But the Archie reboot is great because Waid hits the nail on the head about who the Riverdale Gang would be in 2016. Archie and Betty would be the school’s cutest couple. Archie would be the all-around nice guy who’s able to strike up a conversation with anyone. Jughead is …still Jughead, although, decidedly moodier than I remember; he gives off the air of a Muggle Sirius Black: cool, detached, popular but very ~alternative~.
If you’re in the mood for a feel good classic that’ll keep you entertained every time, pick up the new Archie. While you’re at it, maybe pick up an old one, too.
By Ravynn Stringfield