Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?
We got you! Books for Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but are also entertaining for adults. This week we congratulate Archie Comics on twenty-five wonderful issues of ‘Archie’.
By Stefania Rudd. The aftermath of the heartbreaking “Over the Edge” story arc is strongly felt in “Heart of Riverdale,” as Betty, Archie, Reggie, and the rest of the Riverdale community pick up the pieces and try to move forward. In true Archie fashion, the lives and interpersonal relationships contained therein are guided by the emotional and dramatic. But hey, this is why we pick up Archie comics to begin with.
Mark Waid keeps the momentum of “Edge” by setting new paths in front of many of the characters to explore. Betty, recovering from the car accident that took away her ability to walk, discovers that her father has forbade Archie and the Andrews family from ever interacting with the Coopers again, which has only made her feel worse. She confides in her long-time pal, Jughead, who devises a plan to get his two best pals back together.
In this issue Waid provides a backstory — which surrounds Hot Dog and Jughead at his lowest point — designed to establish Betty and Jughead’s incredibly strong bond. It also confirms why Betty is so beloved by those in her life: Her ability to show up and be there for people at their highest of highs and their lowest of lows, to be a constant cheerleader for her friends is the reason everyone showed up for her when she needed it most. Though Jughead’s plan relies on him giving Mr. and Mrs. Cooper some real talk about the overall well-being of Betty, he, in all his Jugheadedness, executes the conversation with expert precision. (The added touch of Jug making a giant sandwich while he did it, à la Dagwood Bumstead, another comic character with a massive hunger, had me smiling.)
We’re also provided more relationship drama in scenes featuring Archie and Veronica, as well as an update on Reggie and how life is going for him behind bars. (Turns out it’s not a terrible fit, unsurprisingly.) Waid breaks up the book into chapters, and while we know this stuff is happening simultaneously, the fractured storytelling device gives the story a stronger flow, and a method of organization that just makes sense. (It’s worked for twenty-four issues, and it words just as well here.)
Audrey Mok’s efforts blend beautifully with the work of the artists who have stepped up to this series before. (Of course, she is no stranger to Riverdale, thanks to her work on Josie and the Pussycats.) The art really shines with Mok’s multiple closeups; my heart felt a slight tug when Archie and Veronica hugged it out during an uncertain moment, two panels featuring each of their faces separately during the same embrace. Kelly Fitzpatrick enhances the art with a color palette that is realistic, bold, never too flashy. I also appreciated the way the flashback scenes have a slightly subdued tone to them compared to the in the moment story.
There is only so much Betty/Archie separation one can take. Waid continues to do a great job at leaving us hanging by the end — there’s a resolution, sure, but that’s where he expertly places more questions at our feet, leaving us to ponder over what choices these characters are going to make in the next issue. All I know is, decisions are only going to come harder for our ‘ol pal Archie.
Written by Mark Waid.
Art by Audrey Mok.
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Lettering by Jack Morelli.
This book contains defying authority figures, fear of losing a pet, and teen angst. Lots of it.
Age range: 12-15; 16+
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.