There is no love triangle (at least not yet; the Lodges’ impending move is mentioned, but Veronica is not seen once), nor is there an overemphasis on Archie’s clumsy hijinks or cheesy puns within the dialogue. What’s left is an actual straightforward (and funny) teen drama, and one that’s heightened byFiona Staples’ careful art. Staples ( Saga ), along with colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn and letterer Jack Morelli, meticulously and realistically details the pained, conflicted expression on Betty’s face as she contemplates talking to the boy who hurt her. Later, Staples does the same with the hesitation-turned-elation on Archie’s face as he plays his guitar on stage in front of the school, making Archie’s teen triumph feel nearly tangible.
The story isn’t wholly different from what Archie has always been. Archie #1 does set up some silly shenanigans through Jughead, who is plotting a way to reunite his two friends (Jughead, by the way, is especially great in these short pages). It also returns to Archie’s trademark love of music, and even deepens this love by inserting it into the relationship between Archie and his father. The world the characters occupy is has simply been modernized (updated clothes, cooler hairstyles, more characters of color), without losing its original, simplistic charm.
What makes this work so well is that Mark Waid is aware that, stripped down and at its core, Archie has always been a universal tale of adolescence: awkwardness, relationship troubles, detention, homework, and just general confusion and insecurity. This reboot keeps that in mind while heading toward the future.