Archie: Freshman Year

You’ve got to give Archie Comics credit. They’ve had a pretty stable formula for 65 years now, but they’re still willing to try some new things. Last year, for instance, they launched the now-infamous “New Look” with the Betty and Veronica: Bad Boy Trouble storyline. Now they’re sticking with the classic look, but delving into the past. “Little Archie,” of course, has told us the tales of the Riverdale gang as children for years, and the “New Archies” cartoon from the early 90s gave us a glimpse of their middle school days. Now, writer Batton Lash (Of Archie Meets the Punisher) is delving into a period of the kids’ lives we’ve never seen before: the freshman year of high school.

In the first part of this five-issue story, we see the kids in the waning days of their last summer before starting high school, and although the characters are all familiar, they aren’t exactly the kids we know and love yet. Reggie is still a bit of a jerk, Veronica is still self-centered, but Betty has become fed up with Archie’s wishy-washy nature, and Archie is just hoping to escape the middle school principal who plagued him for years. Oh, and Jughead? The Jones clan, sadly, announces that they’re moving away.

Lash has set up an interesting challenge for himself. We all know the ending point: we know Jughead is coming back and Betty will wind up madly in love with Archie and, as for the principal, let’s just say the kids aren’t the only ones in for their first year at Riverdale High. But Lash is working backwards here, showing us characters that we can easily imagine evolving into their familiar types before these five issues are up. He’s also taking a risk with a story this long — Archie fans are used to four or five short stories per issue. Will they stick around for a story that takes five months to complete?

if the next four issues are as good as this first one, I think they will.

There’s a distinct challenge here. The kids from Riverdale can’t age, they can’t grow up, they can’t even really change that much beyond clothes and hairstyles to fit the times. But does that mean you can’t develop the characters ? Absolutely not. Lash has struck upon a brilliant way to really get into these five kids and discover what makes them who they are in a way that this line of comics is rarely allowed to explore. It’s a fine beginning of this storyline, and it’ll be a lot of fun to see what comes next.

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3 Responses to “Archie: Freshman Year”

  1. July 26, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Agreed. That was a great read – and if Archie keeps doing stuff like this? I’d totally read more of their stuff.

  2. 2 Bill Galvan
    July 30, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for your great review of “Archie: Freshman Year”! We’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned for the next 4 issues!

  3. July 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Glad to hear it, Bill — thanks for putting out such a cool comic. I’ve been an Archie fan since I first learned to read, and even though it’s been well over 20 years, I still love to see Archie doing well.

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