Script: Mark Waid
Art: Pete Woods
Publisher: Archie Comics
I’m well on the record as being a giant fan of all things Archie, from the horror books (more soon please!) to the house-style Double Digests to the amazing new show on the CW. But I will say that I enjoy some parts of the Archie-verse more than others, and all for different reasons. Mark Waid’s take on the iconic teenager is my go-to for high school drama of the sunny, funny, optimistic variety.
Just like in the CW’s Riverdale, Cheryl Blossom is the prime mover of much of the plot in this current story arc. Unlike in the show, her twin brother is very much not-dead and every bit as smarmy and awful as his sister. Cheryl took advantage of the Lodge family’s sudden split from Riverdale after Mr. Lodge’s failed mayoral campaign and Veronica’s enrollment at a fancy European boarding school. Her ultimate plan for destroying poor Ronnie involved a hilariously inept attempt at seducing our red-haired hero, who really only has eyes for Miss Lodge at this point.
I really love that Waid uses Veronica to humanize her dad; the one thing he really can’t stand is to see her unhappy. So he allows her to finish her semester in Switzerland and then the family returns to Riverdale. I was really impressed in this issue as well with how smart she actually is. Her speaking French is a fictional shorthand to show us Americans how snooty she is, but it also means she’s bilingual. She also studies finance, and knows enough about the subject to make poor Archie’s eyes glaze over during their dinner date. He returns the favor, talking about the Cubs’ history-making World Series win. Their lack of mutual interests in anything except sucking face makes me wonder how long it’s gonna be before we see the literal anvil from the first page drop. (Also, I see what you did there with drawing a picture of that trope, Pete Woods - well played!)
The subplots in this issue involve a ridiculous bit with the Blossoms offering two months of free eats at Pop’s to Jughead in exchange for his skills as a detective, and a sweet bit with Betty and Dilton enjoying an evening at the Riverdale auto show. Jughead’s part is shorter than I would have liked, but the payoff at the end made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. Betty and Dilton’s story was adorable in ways that seemed specifically designed to warm my cynical heart. I’ve known unrequited love more than once in my life, and I also know what it feels like to enjoy unconventional hobbies. So seeing Betty bond with Dilton over their mutual enjoyment of cars was a lot of fun. Watching her make the decision to give him a chance at date was even better; Woods’ art almost lets the reader see her putting herself in his shoes.
Like I said, I’m wondering how long it’s going to be be before things fracture between Archie and Veronica, and I really can’t wait to see what the knock-on effects will be amongst their circle of friends. I have every confidence that Waid will make it funny and endearing, even if he does have to break our hearts for a little bit.