Written by Will Ewing and Michael Grassi
Art by Joe Eisma
Colors by Andre Szymanowicz
Published by Archie Comics
At last month’s NC Comicon Oak City, everyone was talking about Riverdale. The CW’s new show takes the Americana mythology of Archie, Betty, and the gang, but updates it to a scandalous modern teen soap. Juicy plots spin murder and sex around the bones of shows like Dawson’s Creek and Twin Peaks. It shouldn’t work. But it does. I talked to so many friends about it, and we spent a lot of my Love Is Love panel on it, and we agreed, this show has gone from guilty pleasure to just pleasure.
So it’s natural that Archie Comics will want to capitalize on the show’s popularity by putting out a companion series. This is a great idea. When a new Marvel or DC movie comes out, the comics spend a few months gradually turning their characters into what people saw on screen. It often derails the good storylines, and it’s how we got the floppy mess of Civil War II. But with Archie doing it this way, the fantastic Mark Waid rebooted versions of the kids continues in a bright, funny, wholesome-but-awesome style. People who want their Archie a little… more naked? This book is for them.
The issue this week looks at Hell Week in two parallel short stories. In the first, Archie inherits poor Jason Bloom’s football jersey and has to prove himself to the team by going through the Varsity initiation with Reggie and Moose in tow. When a stunt threatens Moose’s life, Archie has to decide what’s more important: popularity or friendship? (Or, I’d argue, throwing a ball around and maybe killing somebody or focusing on guitar and being a decent human being. But I never played Varsity football. So maybe I’m off.)
The second story has the wicked Cheryl Blossom making her own Hell Week to get Betty kicked out of the cheerleaders, but she’s clearly underestimating our favorite blonde… and her best friend.
This book is a treat. The teen characters feel realistic and on-brand with the show we love, and Joe Eisma manages to make them all look sexy without making me, as a reader above the age of seventeen, feel gross. His characters aren’t photocopies of the actors, but they’re clearly recognizable and walk a sharp line between the video screen and the comic page. The book lacks the humor of Mark Waid and Ryan North’s stuff, but it’s not a humor comic, and the drama is absolutely what fans of the Riverdale TV adventures are here for.
Pick this up, watch Riverdale on the CW Thursday nights, and flag me down at NC Comicon Greensboro in September – we’ll talk!
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics