Friday, June 3, 2016

Tales From the Bookshelf: Archie, Volume One

Archie Volume One Review
(When I started typing this review it was originally supposed to be part of a "stuff I read in May" type post, but I just have a lot of feelings about Archie, ok?! I'll get back to writing about the rest of May's books later. So I hope you enjoy this review of Archie, Volume One, by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu and Veronica Fish!)

I read a lot of good stuff in May, but this one I was the most excited about. Everyone knows I love Archie everything, so I was excited to see what was going on with this fresh looking revamp! I'd been tempted to buy the single issues so. many. times...but I resisted. Not only do I have nowhere to store so many issues, but it's a lot cheaper to wait for the book. (Although I'm making an exception for Afterlife with Archie, since new issues don't come out very often anyway. I am definitely picking up issue 9 next week!) Anyway, I was excited to see that issue 1 was getting a reprinting for Free Comic Book Day, so of course I had to pick it up (yeah yeah I just got done talking about how I don't get single issues, but it was FREE, YOU GUYS). I loved it so much that Andrew surprised me with the full volume a week later!

What I loved about this series is that all your favorite characters are still alive and well, but everything as a whole just has MORE. The characters have more depth and you can actually imagine them as real people, the story has WAY more depth (especially if you grew up reading Archie digests with 10 different stories that had nothing to do with each other) and the town of Riverdale feels like an actual place, rather than this happy bubble where nothing bad ever happens. Jughead is more than a guy that likes to eat (he's also my favorite!). Veronica is more than a rich bimbo, so on so forth. It respects the series history while still progressing and moving forward.

A major story difference here is how the Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle is handled, which didn't bug me one bit because I always thought their thing was kind of weird. Traditionally Betty and Veronica are BFF's and BOTH dating Archie, which is somehow totally ok because neither are going steady with him, though they wish they were. I don't think I know anyone that would knowingly date the same guy as their BFF for YEARS and still manage to be friends?? But again, it's in Riverdale, where nothing too terrible ever happens! So the new Archie took care of that weirdness. In the beginning of the story Archie and Betty have recently broken up, after having been going steady since middle school or whatever. Something called the "lipstick incident" happens (which we don't get full details about until later) which leads to an awkward and abrupt breakup, and now they're not speaking to each other. A couple weeks later Veronica moves to Riverdale and takes a liking to Archie, and he has this puppy-love thing going on because she's hot and rich. Since obviously there are still so many loose threads with Betty their story is far from done, but now with Veronica thrown into the mix we're back to our original love triangle, but in a less cringey manner than the original comics.

Now let's talk about the art. A lot of people are picking this up because OMG Fiona Staples (of Saga fame). I love her, too. She illustrated the cover and the first three issues (there are six in vol. 1). While being very different from OG Archie art, I love her style and thought it somehow mixed really well with the characters! Issue 4 is illustrated by Annie Wu (Hawkeye, Black Canary), which I didn't dislike but was a really abrupt change. Issues 5-6 are illustrated by Veronica Fish (Pirates of Mars, The Wendy Project), who's now the regular series artist. Her style reminds me a lot of Fiona Staples, but a little more cartoony. Sort of like an in-between of the classic, bubbly Archie illustrations and Fiona Staples-style. I like it!

Archie Veronica Fish
Veronica Fish's take on Archie.

Finally,  and I don't want to start any diversity arguments, but I want to touch on something really quick. I've read a few complaints from people saying there are no LGBT characters in the book. If you think that as well then don't you worry because we're going to nip that in the bud right now. I want to make this as clear as possible, so I made you a lil graphic :)

Archie, Kevin Keller
Scanned from the book, sorry it's fuzzy hahah.

Alright? Kevin shows up only four pages into the book, and you see him a handful more times throughout the volume. In this reboot they don't make it super obvious that he's gay, but he's been in the Archie-verse since 2010, and the introduction of the first gay character in Archie made quite a lot of headlines. So if you pick up the new series, having never read anything Archie-related before, and assume there are no LGBT characters, it's understandable. But just know that that isn't true, and that Kevin is awesome. Now, I'm not saying the series couldn't use more diverse characters, but I don't want people to say there aren't any when that just isn't true. Put your faith in Kevin, he's a cool guy!

Overall I'm a HUGE fan of this series! I can't wait to read more! Will I be able to wait for Volume Two??! I don't know! I wish I lived by a comic shop like Stuart's in Big Bang Theory, where you can just sit around and read comics without having to buy them, hahah.

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