By Dustin Cabeal
First and foremost, I’m not going to tell you who is the person injured in the drag race that happened in the last issue of Archie. Frankly, when I read the solicit I knew who it would be and I wasn’t wrong. It’s obvious given the trio involved, and only one of those characters would actually “change everything” as they’re billing the next issue.
The issues itself is just okay. The unfortunate thing about it is that Mark Waid is trying to illustrate the normal life of the side characters before showing a tragedy striking. The goal is to show how quickly everything can change and snap you out of the norm. Nowhere is this more effective than Jughead’s part of the story in which he becomes a waiter at Pops so that he can work off his debt. It’s a great little scene that highlights his character and gets a lot of free jokes into the issue. That becomes a theme, jokes first, phone call, everything changes.
The problem I ended up having with it is that we go to this well too many times. Four to be exact and while it’s great character stories, they end up being kind of awkward given that everyone picking up this issue is expecting someone to be dead. It’s not that Waid isn’t successful, it’s that you become numb to the formula and so the drama isn’t as rich by the time we reach it. The problem with that is that everything is riding on that last sequence in which everything is revealed. Unfortunately, it fell flat and didn’t resonate with any sense of realism. The emotions feel like a 90s teen drama, which is by no means a compliment. There’s no complexity to what anyone is feeling because instead of focusing on that and maybe only presenting three short stories, it’s all rushed at the end to be shocking.
I started off this review by saying it was anything but shocking. Really it won’t be shocking until readers can see what comes next. Until then, it’s all just forced drama and attempts at shock. Which hey, that moves issues, but if it’s not rewarding to the long term then it’s not worth it. Time will tell.
Pete Woods does a solid job on the issue with the exception of the drama. No one’s faces read with any real tragedy which was a shame. Woods’ art was great for the side stories that relied on comedy and lightheartedness, but when each character got their shocking message it lost its edge and detail in some cases. Woods is a good fit for the style of the series, but this was billed as edgy and dramatic, and the art was anything but edgy. It’s bright and goofy for the most part which didn’t work towards that quick snap change that strikes in life all too often.
If you’re reading Archie, then keep reading Archie. If you were curious about this storyline the way I was, then I hate to say it, but it’s not particularly worth the time. Maybe what comes after this arc will be worth it, but this is just shock and awe that rely on cliffhangers. It’s easy to see what the creators were going for, but ultimately it didn’t work out in the end.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Pete Woods
Letterer: Jack Morelli