Road To Riverdale
Writers: Mark Waid, Chip Zdarsky, Adam Hughes and others
Artists: Fiona Staples, Erica Henderson, Hughes and others
Archie Comics; $14.99
The title of this special trade paperback collection suggests that its contents are the inspiration for the CW’s fairly bonkers new television series Riverdale, a sort of sexy teen noir in the style of Pretty Little Liars featuring the characters from Archie Comics.
A more accurate title might have been The Road Back From Riverdale, as the purpose of the collection seems to be to introduce fans of the Riverdale TV show to Archie’s current line of comics set in (and around) the city of Riverdale, the comics starring the characters that the show is built around altered versions of.
In other words, if you like the TV show and want to see what Archie Comics are like these days, then this is the book you want to invest in, featuring as it does five first issues from the five different ongoing comic series. And if you like those, then you can move on to the other collections. If you only know the characters from the TV show, though, chances are you’re going to have your mind blown by how different they are in the sex-, scandal-, and crime-free comics line.
The cover is by Francesco Francavilla, and it depicts the TV show’s version of the characters. He’s a particularly interesting choice for the cover, because his on-again, off-again zombie series Afterlife With Archie is probably the closest thing to Riverdale that Archie publishes (at least in terms of tone; no zombies have shown up on the TV show…at least, not yet). It’s not collected in here, though.
What you will find inside are Archie #1 by writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples, which kicked off the whole revamped line; Jughead #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson; Betty and Veronica #1 by Adam Hughes; Reggie and Me #1 by Tom DeFalco and Sandy Jarrell; and Josie and The Pussycats #1 by Margeurite Bennett, Cameron DeOrido, and Audrey Mok.
All five are comedic in tone, with the most serious of them—Archie and Reggie and Me, probably—still being primarily funny comics with bits of drama to them, rather than dramatic. Jughead and Josie both lack a serious bone in their metaphorical bodies, and the latter gets pretty wild in its fourth-wall shattering. Betty and Veronica is a weird clash of Hughes’ comic books-by-way-of-Norman Rockwell aesthetic and almost artificially witty dialogue and plotting. Two of the books are narrated by dogs.
If you like Riverdale, Archie Comics is rather ironically probably not the best place to look for comic books that deliver similar content, but, on the other hand, these are all pretty good comics, ranging from mediocre to brilliant, and just because you’re into hot, shirtless Archie Andrews and his turbo-charged libido from the TV show doesn’t mean you won’t like hapless, clumsy, shirt-wearing Archie and his pals in the comics. They’re obviously very, very (very!) different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t like both in different ways.