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Review: ‘Archie,’ vol. 1

Back in August the Good Comics for Kids crowd discussed the release of the “New Archie,” a new series from Archie Comics. Recently, I noticed that the first six issues had been published as a trade paperback, and since I’m not a fan of single-issue comics (I hate waiting so long between issues to get the rest of the story), I thought I’d order it for my library—and of course have a read myself first!

ArchieVolume1-1-666x1024Archie: Volume One
By Mark Waid. Fiona Staples
Archie Comics. 2016. ISBN 9781627388672
PBK, $19.99. 176pp.
Grades 7 and up

This isn’t the first time Archie Comics has attempted to reboot and/or modernize its iconic character Archie and his universe, but this time it looks like they hit the nail on the head.

Let’s start with the story. The Riverdale setting goes back to an earlier time, before Veronica Lodge came to town, and even gives us some Jughead backstory that modern readers might not know. In issue #1 the story is introduced: Super couple Betty and Archie have broken up over the #lipstickincident. (Readers don’t find out what the incident is until issue #4.) Efforts are made to bring them together, but an uncharacteristically practical Jughead intervenes. The story continues with the coming of the Lodge family. It’s not long before Veronica and Archie become a couple. Reggie hopes to intervene. The story moves at a nice clip with a soap opera feel and the characters maintain many of their endearing characteristics. It still feels like Riverdale, but a bit more modern and maybe a bit edgier.

The artwork is phenomenal. Without butchering these classic and recognizable characters, Fiona Staples brought them into the 21st century, with crisp, clear jawlines and current wardrobes. The settings all feel like today, without losing their charm. Even Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe just feels like a retro diner that’s a popular hot spot.

The six issues collected in one graphic novel include a few extras, like the gallery of variant covers. There’s a two-page spread about the making of a graphic novel and a letter from writer Mark Waid, who tells about his mission to “first do no harm.” Finally, the extras end with the first issue of the Jughead reboot by Chris Zdarsky.

If readers have not been keeping up with the single-issue comics, it’s worth purchasing the trade paperback version. It will spark interest and discussion and perhaps bring a new audience to the Archie franchise.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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