'The Archies' a high-energy ode to music and friendship

‘The Archies’ a high-energy ode to music and friendship

Cover to 'The Archies'. Art by Jaime Hernandez/Archie Comics

Cover to ‘The Archies’. Art by Jaime Hernandez/Archie Comics

By Stefania Rudd. As a response to the attention surrounding The CW’s Riverdale, Archie Comics has released a glut of special Archie-related one-shots targeted to all ages. They’re designed to either supplement or enhance the Archie lore, such as it is, for new and long-time fans.

I, for one, am more than happy with that. Mainly because it allows many exciting creators to get involved with Archie, while allowing them the chance at interpreting the publisher’s iconic characters and/or an aspect of the Archie Universe in the process. With The Archies, it’s Alex Segura, Matthew Rosenberg and Joe Eisma who’ve been given the opportunity to apply their spin on these classic teens from Riverdale.

In the space within this one-shot Segura and Rosenberg show us the ups and downs that come with forming a band with friends. Through Archie Andrews’ narration — letterer Jack Morelli employs yellow speech bubbles whenever Archie speaks directly to us — we’re provided a certain amount of intimacy in this otherwise freewheeling stand-alone tale. Archie breaks the fourth wall, as he so often does, but Rosenberg and Segura make sure that we’re aware of Mr. Andrews’ vulnerability, and Eisma maximizes this by pointing those trademark soulful eyes directly upwards, towards us.

Interior page to 'The Archies'. Art by Joe Eisma and Matt Herms/Archie Comics

Interior page to ‘The Archies’. Art by Joe Eisma and Matt Herms/Archie Comics

The story itself pretty straightforward. Archie finds that he’s blundered into a booking for a gig without having a band in place to back him up, so he and Jughead begin auditioning countless musicians throughout Riverdale. Not finding the creative bond with any of the applicants, Archie ultimately relies on Betty and Veronica to join.

What happens next should be obvious to anyone even remotely familiar with Archie lore: Archie takes his band for granted, they get mad, and they quit to join another band. As he braces himself to go the gig solo, that’s when the story introduces themes of forgiveness and friendship into its pages… and it makes time to rock out at the cool teen club.

The writing is very solid and is very much in line with other Archie books. Since this book is all about the band, Segura and Rosenberg get to have some fun with Archie and Jughead as music now-it-alls: the boys share a conversation about music that is at once funny, lovely, and authentic. Eisma’s art is a natural fit for this book; the artist allows the characters to look and dress like teenagers, which injects even more musical influence into the book, with band shirts that collectively read like the best mix-tape ever. (Bands like The Vaselines, Suicide, The Clash, Stone Temple Pilots, and more get a solid name-drop.)

Emotions are expresses so wonderfully here: from Betty’s heartbreak to Reggie’s smugness to Archie’s remorse, each character enhances the overall feel of the story. Matt Herm’s coloring is vibrant, energetic, and nuanced through shading and shadows. Overall, this is a solid one-shot that could easily become a series. Maybe if The Archies book more gigs we can get more issues?

Archie Comics/$4.99

Written by Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg.

Art by Joe Eisma.

Coloring by Matt Herms.

Letters by Jack Morelli.

8 out of 10

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