by Courtney RyanWhen Vito Corleone cradles a purring kitten during the opening scene of The Godfather, we are no less aware of his ruthless prowess than we would be had he held a tommy gun instead. If anything, the way he gently cuddles the playful tabby while calmly refusing a troubled undertaker’s request for murderous revenge is made all the more sinister by the presence of a cat. This godfather isn’t a cold, calculating machine; he’s a warm-blooded human who likes holding baby animals — a far more difficult enemy to predict.

Reggie Mantle isn’t exactly closing in on Vito Corleone’s level. However, as Reggie and Me #1 declares from the first page, he is “the closest thing Riverdale has to a super-villain.” Like Vito, we first see Reggie with the perspective of how he interacts with his pets, in that the entire issue is narrated by his trusty dachshund, Vader. Of course, to a dog there is no one more loved and admired than their owner, so Vader’s praise of Reggie’s polish and skill is a nice foil for the super-villain’s infamous vanity.

Writer Tom DeFalco smartly uses Vader’s point of view to add dimension to the typically one-note character from the Archie Comics Universe. Fans of the series might chuckle at Reggie’s pranks, or his wit, or his glowing opinion of himself, but those gags are hardly enough to carry us through his own series. Through Vader’s eyes he’s immediately lovable, and the conflict now revolves around why he feels so alienated from Archie and the gang. Most of this first issue is character development, and considering that the character in question is Reggie Mantle, that’s progress.  

Artist Sandy Jarrell conjures nostalgia with his classic yet updated images of Reggie, Archie, Veronica, Midge, and the rest. He cleverly keeps the perspective at the eye level of a four-legged friend so we’re never confused about who’s controlling the narrative. Kelly Fitzpatrick ties this new series to others in the Archie-verse by using the bright, energetic color scheme that’s become synonymous with Riverdale.

Reggie and Me #1 isn’t quite the tour de force that The Godfather is, but I doubt anyone will be too peeved about that. Defalco adds nuance to a bully trope that’s been stagnant for nearly 80 years. That alone makes this series worthwhile for Archie fans.

Archie Comics / $3.99

Written by Tom DeFalco.

Illustrated by Sandy Jarrell.

Colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

8 out of 10