|Review by Erin Maxwell|
It is difficult to imagine a squarer cat than Archie Andrews.
His bow tie. His old jalopy. His girl crazy ways and the slightly unhealthy relationship he has with his principal Mr. Weatherbee.
He was a teenager that was crafted by adults in the ‘40s, forced upon era after era of teenagers by era after era of adults, never to age or grown, to always remain indignant of popular culture.
If there was a popular trend, Archie was no doubt a year or two behind it. If there was a dance craze, a clothing fad, a type of music that was popular, then there was Archie, several years later, to capitalize on its success.
There was a reason why Archie relegated as reading for little girls. It was considered a gateway comics for tweens. The adventures of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the gang were only for those who were sick with at home with chickenpox or if they just had their tonsils out, not serious reading for the comic aficionado.
That is why Archie Comics’ attempt to bring their Chosen Son into modern times has been an interesting path to follow.
The runaway success of Afterlife With Archie bucked preconceived notions of zombie bandwagon jumping thanks to a bevy of skilled artists and writers. What could have easily have been a train wreck ended up a delight for both Archie fans and horror fans alike.
Twisting the mythos of Riverdale on its ear and pitting time-tested characters against each other in a game for survival.
And it was just…awesome.
And now the great Ginger One got a makeover in “real” world, well, one without zombies at least.
Mark Waid and Fiona Staples reimagine the iconic teen as a modern teenager, with a modern look, modern views, a new vocabulary and, more importantly, humanity.
Artists Staples, Annie Wu, Andre Szymanowicz, Jen Vaughn and Jack Morelli have given Archie and his Riverdale pals a new look that compliments the new book. The forever teens are no longer interchangeable counterparts with different hair colors but unique individuals with their own styles that occupy a fully realized world of Riverdale.
The style of the book speaks of modern audiences with more manga influences than ‘50s funnybooks while the characters themselves don modern fashions as they text, because that’s what kids friggin’ do.
The characters are also given new lease on life with fresh new backstories. Betty and Archie are introduced after they have broken up as one of Riverdale’s power couples. Jughead used to be one of the town’s most elite before his dad lost it all in bad investments. Reggie isn’t just a pest, he’s sleazy. Veronica is the perfect, charming snob with a jealous streak a mile wide.
But more importantly, these are characters that can operate in a real world. They are relatable. Veronica is a bitch, but she has a soft spot. Betty is the girl next door, but she makes mistakes and must pay for them. Reggie can be mean, but there is reason behind his actions.
The evolution of Archie and his gang has been a long time coming. For a long while, they seemed forever frozen in the time, a snapshot of a bygone era, but in brightly inked ill-fitting clothing attempting (and failing) to fit into modern culture. This time around, they actually succeed.
Whether they can keep up the with the times is another story.