Review: Archie #8

Despite nearly getting lured in by the promise of Fiona Staple's art on the opening arc, 'Archie #8' is my first brush with Riverdale Rebooted. I didn't know what to expect, yet somehow walked away with exactly what I expected. Explain that. In this issue, Mr. Lodge hates Archie and plots to keep him away from his daughter Veronica. If this sounds familiar, say multiple decades’ worth of storytelling familiar, that's because this new series really doesn't reinvent the Archie wheel as much as add some extra narrative features on it. Ever want to read about Archie but with an ongoing chronology, decompressed writing, and mild dramatic consequence? Here it is, with much of the whimsically broad characterization of the original characters still intact. Archie is still a mayhem causing klutz, Veronica is still unrepentantly stuck up, and Jughead is still Jughead, only now with pupils.

ARCHIE #8 Cover by Veronica FishFor what it is, it's decently written by scribe Mark Waid, moving briskly enough along and with decent beats and comic moments. Ultimately however, it's the resulting clash of tone which makes it hard to see myself getting invested at all in New Archie. The easiest way to write a parody is to take a character from a broadly written fictional world and set them in a world with the consequences we expect from our one. The moment the cartoon hits the real world, the ridiculousness of the tropes are laid bare, resulting in humor from how the two were clearly not designed to mingle with each other. 'Archie' isn't parody, but it takes the premise of one, throwing issues like encroaching financial ruin in the Archie family in the same issue that starts with Archie getting his head stuck in a trophy cup via golf cart accident. Cartoon Veronica is the rich snobby mirror of homegrown Cartoon Betty. In the context of being a goofy cartoon her exaggerated elitism is appropriate. In the 'real world' context, it makes her horribly unlikable, a shrill brat which doesn't seem worthy of Archie's romantic infatuation.

The art by Veronica Fish is solid, it handles the tonal shifts better than the script, capable of handling serious moments and visual levity well. The colors by Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn are also well handled, bright and poppy, an appropriate match for the thick linework. Not much to say on the matter, but the art handled a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of charisma.

Final evaluation, it's not for me, but it's also a perfectly serviceable light reading romance book. I think people who already read traditional Archie would be comfortable reading this, it's simply that I imagine they'd be equally well serviced simply reading what existed pre-reboot. The new context doesn't hurt or help Archie, he's simply too frivolous of a character to require or benefit from re-contextualization. I might not get much out of this, but in an age of reboots I at least don't resent its existence.

Also, in this issue Jughead sits on the floor and watches Archie cook, and Archie pets his head like a dog.

That was weird.

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Archie #8 Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Veronica Fist Publisher: Archie Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/11/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital