Writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples are working a special kind of magic with Archie #1. They’ve managed to create something that’s fresh and surprising without sacrificing any of the things that make the best Archie stories so much fun. The two of them just plain get it, and the result is a flawless re-launch that will delight longtime readers and intrigue newcomers.
It wouldn’t be an Archie story without some boy-girl trouble, and issue #1 finds Betty and Archie, Riverdale High’s cutest and most enduring couple, on the outs. The breakup is blamed on a mysterious “lipstick incident” that has all the kids talking, and plans are afoot to get the two of them back together at the homecoming dance. You’ll find yourself rooting for their scheme to work.
Waid has the players down pat. In just a few beats, he establishes Archie as a relatable, endearing narrator, and he captures Betty perfectly with the statement: “She smells like flowers and motor oil.” Even if you had no frame of reference for Reggie or Jughead, you’d know immediately what roles they play in this universe thanks to Waid’s expert character sketches.
And speaking of character sketches, Staples’ illustrations are as superb as you’d expect. Everything about her take on Archie and his friends feels right. It references just enough of the past while bringing them fully into a new era. This issue is full of standout moments, like the scene of Betty practically recoiling at Reggie’s touch and Archie finding himself, guitar in hand, in a literal spotlight.
Even if you’re only casually interested, Archie #1 is well worth your time. I can’t wait to see how Waid and Staples introduce one character who was conspicuously absent in this issue, but is sure to change the climate in Riverdale upon arrival.