Writers: Paul Kupperburg and Michael Uslan
Publisher: Archie Comics
Artist: Norm Breyfogle
Release Date: September 14th, 2011
Reviewed by: Rollo Tomassi
I know, Archie? Really? But hear me out. I never read an Archie comic before. But yers ago I kept hearing buzz about this story from a podcast I followed. So when I saw the trade at my local library I gave it a chance. And once I started I couldn’t put it down. This trade is the first volume of the critically acclaimed storyline that aged up the Riverdale gang to their 20’s. As we follow them through their trials and tribulations in learning to be adults. I know this sounds boring. But there is a great twist here that reminds you of tv shows like LOST.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
For decades Archie stories tended to focus on who Archie will end up with. Betty or Veronica? Which to be honest in modern times really does come off as a tad sexist. Here the writers decide to tell two different stories in a Crisis on Infinite Earths fashion. On one world Archie married Veronica. On another world he married Betty. As we follow their respective stories we see how different yet still similar each world is.
You don’t need an extensive knowledge of Archie and his vast cast of characters. And if you are being honest with yourself, you likely have some familiarity even if you’ve never read an Archie comic.
We start with the Riverdale gang in their early to mid 20’s. On one world Archie is working with his wife Veronica at her father’s business. On Earth 2 Archie and his wife Betty live in New York City where he struggles to kickstart his music career while Betty works at a department store. All the supporting characters have minor differences in each world. While it might seem like it would be difficult to follow all the characters over two different storylines the writers do a great job of keeping everything going with little confusion. One interesting way they do this is how some of the characters end up doing the same thing in each world. But the circumstances of how they get there differs. For example Jughead is trying to build up his new diner in both worlds. But there are slight changes in each world how he does that.
The character drama is surprisingly deep. But not in a mean way. This cast have been friends since they were very little. Even when they argue you can see they are all each other’s support system. The problems they face in this trade are believable and what many young adults starting out can relate to. It reminds me of a CW tv shoe before the DC universe took over that network. And before you say “but isn’t Riverdale on the CW?”, I will say that show is way darker than this book is.
Not to spoil things that happen in subsequent volumes, but there is a point to having two worlds that leads to that Crisis/Lost feel I mentioned earlier.
Regarding the art, I was shocked to discover that the art is by the late NORM FREAKING BREYFOGLE! Long time comic fans might remember Norm from his popular Batman work. here he slightly restrains his style to match the house style of a typical Archie style. But he is still able to add his touch of style. One thing I kept noticing throughout was everyone is almost always smiling! While this could have been annoying after awhile it actually helps the reader to just relax and enjoy
If you are looking for a nice slice of life story about a group of friends trying to make their way in the world(s), give this first volume a try. Don’t let the fact it’s Archie turn you off. It’s a surprisingly fast and engaging read. You’ll find yourself rooting for some characters as you watch them rise and fall. But always have their friends there to get them through it.