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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Top Of The Pile: Archie #1


So, it's finally here! The first new Archie number one in 75 years... and what a fantastic start to the relaunched series.

Straight out the gate Mark Waid demonstrates his gift for dialogue, blending gentle wit and fourth-wall breaking shenanigans with a wholly convincing tale of high school drama.

The legendary power couple of Riverdale High, Betty Cooper and Archie Andrews, have broken up and no-one knows the details - beyond the involvement of the "lipstick incident".

Everyone, bar Jughead, is determined to engineer a joyous reunion for Betty and Archie - because that's how things ought to be. Jughead - Archie's best friend - has other ideas.

Meanwhile, lurking unseen in the shadows of the story is the arrival in Riverdale of business magnate Hiram Lodge and his daughter, Veronica.

Perfect from start to finish, with wholly convincing characters driving the plot, the only aggravating part of the issue is that the story ends too soon. I want issue two in my hands right now!

My theory, although it's probably too obvious a twist, is that "lipstick incident" actually involves Veronica's lipstick being found on Betty.

Fiona Staples art brings a more naturalistic feel to Riverdale and its inhabitants, far less cartoonish than the Archie Comics house-style we're so used to, but it took a moment of readjustment to see the characters as "real people".

Afterlife With Archie, though, has paved the way for me towards seeing these characters in this new light (even if Archie, in his eponymous title, is prone to talking to the reader with an almost Deadpool-like acceptance that he is in a comic book). .

The issue wraps up with a reprint of the very first appearance of Archie, from issue 22 of Pep Comics, from way back in 1941. And, as Mark Waid points out in his introduction to this slice of vintage Archieana, once you strip away the period peculiarities, the core of the character remains the same now as it did 75 years ago!

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