Probably the first comic book series I loved was Archie. Archie revolved around a group of never-aging teenagers in Riverdale and their love lives and antics. It was funny and occasionally poignant as Archie tried to choose between Betty and Veronica, the two women who ruled his heart. Jughead Jones was my favorite character because he didn’t care to be involved in any love triangles and just wanted to eat all the hamburgers and hang out with this friends and his dog, Hotdog. You have probably read Archie, or at least flipped through an issue while waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket. But did you know that Archie has many lives beyond the classic Archie comics?
And I’m not talking about Jughead Digest or Betty and Veronica Magazine.
No, not those.
I’m talking Archie vs. Predator, Afterlife with Archie, and the all new Archie comics.
Let’s begin with Archie vs. Predator.
The script is by Alex de Campi, pencils by Fernando Ruiz, inks by Rich Koslowski, and colors by Jason Millet. Yes, it is just what it sounds like: Predator, from the popular Predator film series (including the much loved Alien vs. Predator) stumbles upon Archie and the gang during a fashion contest on the beach. After Cheryl Blossom helps Betty beat Veronica in the contest, Veronica punches Betty and breaks her nose. Betty runs off sobbing, and sees Cheryl and her brother, Jason, planning to steal idols from a nearby cave. Betty follows them, and everyone else rushes around trying to find her.
As in any good Predator film, no one has any idea that Predator is around, not even when blood is dripping on them from a tree branch (yep, it’s a pretty funny scene where blood is dripping down on Riverdale’s finest and then you see Predator hanging out in the tree with two skeletons in his hand!).
And as an improvement to the Predator films, in this comic series Predator speaks in emojis!
Which I thought was brilliant. This is a limited four-comic release, but unfortunately I only have comic one. I can’t wait to read how it all ends.
If you’re a fan of Predator, and you love Archie, then definitely get your hands on this. Done in the classic art that you know, it’s a super quick read and very entertaining!
Now Afterlife with Archie Book One: Escape from Riverdale.
(this is a trade collection of comics. I can’t wait for Book Two!)
This story is by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the artwork is by Francesco Francavilla. This book is DARK, in the best possible way. Witches? Check. Zombies? Check. Having to kill the people you love because they are zombies? Seeing iconic places go up in smoke? Not sure how you’re going to survive? Check check and check.
Without spoiling the story, Jughead’s dog is hit by a car and killed, and he goes to Sabrina for help. For those of you NOT familiar with the Archie comics, they were the birthplace of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which later became a staple on TGIF starring Melissa Joan Hart.
Well, long story short, necromancy is BAD.
Sabrina helps, but it lands her in MAJOR trouble and basically begins a zombie invasion in Riverdale. Watching beloved characters turn into zombies and eat other Archie characters is sad and terrifying. Those unaffected remain true to character. Archie tries to save everyone, Veronica’s dad tries to poke holes in Archie’s plan, and Moose is as confused as ever.
The artwork in this book is not the classic Archie drawing style. Instead it is updated to look more modern, and the colors are deep and dark, with lots of black in every panel. There is a grid page pertaining to Archie and his dad, Fred Andrews, which is incredibly devastating and violent and yet really incredible. I had one hand over my mouth while I read parts of this because I was audibly gasping.
I won’t spoil for you who turns into a zombie, and who doesn’t, but I highly recommend you pick this up. I love horror films and this had all the best elements of horror: family loyalty, death and destruction, and fear of the unknown. This book was also really interesting in that it gave a good bit of background to Veronica’s mother, who died shortly after she was born and whom I do not recall from the classic comics. We also see Reggie honestly struggle with guilt, and seeing him with a true emotional burden is a first. Not a fan of zombies and afraid that this will ruin the way you look at Archie? Well maybe my next pick will help redeem that!
And finally, let me present the new Archie: Volume One.
This story is by Mark Waid with art by Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish. This is an updated version of Archie but it retains all the heart and humor of the classic Archie comics.
As Mark Waid writes in the Afterword, “All the term ‘updating’ meant to me, to us, was digging a little more deeply into the kids and their personalities. It meant allowing actual, permanent conflict between them so that there’s a greater, more dramatic sense of consequence to their interactions and their choices. It meant never ignoring an opportunity for Archie to get a paint can stuck on his head. It’s still comedy, people.”
I was wary about this going in because on the cover Archie is so traditionally handsome! But my sister got the first issue at Free Comics Book Day and told me it was really good, so when she sent me Volume One for my birthday I put aside my resignations and gave it a shot.
And it was so great! They moved Archie and the gang to the year 2016 without introducing sex, drugs and alcohol, keeping it family friendly just like the originals. The story begins with Betty and Archie breaking up (#LipstickIncident) and then Veronica Lodge and her father move to town and Archie falls head over heels! But what about Betty??
The gang are all here, better than ever.
Jughead still has an enormous appetite and sports his crown-shaped beanie, but he is also a considerate deep thinker who has Betty and Archie’s best interests in mind. Once the richest boy in town, Jughead’s parents went broke and he had to deal with the social fallout from it.
My favorite dialogue with Jughead is between him and Archie. Jughead is wearing a sweater with the letter S on it and tells Archie:
“You are who you are, not what people think you are. Be straight. Be weird. Be whatever. Just be what you wanna be. And if people don’t like it…”
“…That’s what the ‘S’ stands for?”
“That’s what the ‘S’ stands for.”
Archie is still a complete klutz, and his friends have to help him when he takes a job as a construction worker to make sure he doesn’t get hurt or killed- but even they can’t stop Archie from wreaking havoc. And he goes to all lengths to win Veronica’s heart, as per usual.
Betty is still the strong, sweet character she has always been. The Lipstick Incident, which is the reason her and Archie broke up, is really an amazing show of integrity by Betty. I wanted to high five her and give her a hug after, and I hope that many young women read it and take Betty’s words to heart. I have always been Team Betty and this only reinforces my opinion that Archie should choose her! Though let’s be real, Archie really doesn’t deserve either woman!
And in a real stroke of genius, Veronica is a Kardashian wannabe, all dressed up with nowhere to go. She is as stuck up as ever, but really thinks she loves Archie. And Reggie is his usual, plotting, trouble-causing self. Sigh. It’s nostalgia done right. I’m so excited to continue visiting this Riverdale, where it seems more realistic but as entertaining as ever!
Do you have a favorite version of Archie? Let me know in the comments!
And I did hear a rumor that Archie vs. Sharknado was coming out…I don’t know if there’s any truth in that, but it sounds ridiculous enough to maybe be amazing!