In one of the most anticipated reboots of recent years, Thrillbent’s Mark Waid and Saga’s Fiona Staples have come together to reimagine one one of comic’s most beloved characters in Archie #1. But can this dream team pull out all the stops to delight both old and new fans and make this 75 year old character relevant to a new audience?
Publisher: Archie Comics
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Fiona Staples
Price: £2.49/$2.99 from Comixology
Archie’s first appearance was in Pep Comics #22 back in 1941 (and is included as a bonus in the issue) and has become a fixture of the comics landscape with his wholesome high school adventures. However as we entered into the 21st century, the creators of Archie struggled to make this 75 year old high school student relevant for a new audience. Most recently attempt to spike interest in the Riverdale gang included bold re-imaginings like Afterlife with Archie and novelty mash-ups like Archie versus Predator, but now, now!, the comic gods have granted us all something truly special as comic superstars Waid and Staples have been given license to create an all-new Archie #1 run and created one of the most perfect reboots of a comic we have read in years!
Our story begins with heartbreak, proper teenage we’ve-been-together-since-we-were-kids heartbreak – Archie and Betty have split up because of “the lipstick incident”. What’s this incident? Nobody knows. Everybody wants to know, but Archie and Betty are keeping it quiet. But when you’re the power couple at Riverdale High, people aren’t going to just let things like that slide.
From the get-go Archie’s this charismatic character who’ll walk off the page and all over your heart. He says that he’s okay at one point – really! – but you’ll see through that. Don’t be too harsh on him, though. He’s got a good group of friends looking out for him.
This isn’t some teenage caricature that pops up whenever a younger person takes centre stage in any medium, but an honest to gods three-dimensional character going through things that many of us will empathise with.
And it’s not just Archie that Waid has given such a realistic voice to either. The other members of the gang all have their own voices and hand in events rather than just being mere passive commentators or spectators. They actively want to do something for Archie and Betty even if it isn’t what’s needed right now.
To go with such vivid writing, Staples has produced some truly beautiful artwork. The scenes are minimalistic but with just enough detail to strike a happy balance – you’re not bogged down with irrelevance. A particularly stunning page shows the gang emerging from the cinema and rating the movie using stars in their speech bubbles. Such a simple and effective way to move the scene along without having to go into tiny details like what movie they saw leaves us free to draw our own conclusions. It’s little touches like this that really bring the comic together because you can make it your own, everybody’s going to have a different interpretation.