Plotted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, four different teams craft solo stories for the four leads of the CW’s new hit series Riverdale. Does it live up to the hype?
Riverdale, as a concept, works because it makes the Archie characters relatible. Supposedly they’ve always been that, but maybe having them played by actual teenagers with normal problems helps the sell. In any case, this should be an easy win for the comic. One of the lead producers of the show (and one of Archie Comics leading comic writers) lays out plots for characters, and we get some added insight to the story on the show.
Centering on Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead; each story depicts them individually over the summer before the show begins. The Archie story is kind of superfluous, as it retreds his relationship with Miss Grundy and his construction job. The only enlightening tidbit is where he picked up his guitar. In contrast, the Betty and Veronica stories reveal new information about what they did over the summer. Betty had an exciting time in LA, and even had an almost summer-fling. Veronica went from the high life in New York, and a close family relationship, to one of moderate living and strained conversations. Jughead fairs a bit better than the Archie tale, but doesn’t offer a lot that is new. We know they used to be closer friends, and had plans to make a July 4th roadtrip (which Archie blew-off to be with Miss Grundy). Still, we see more of Jughead here than we usually do in the show and his novel writing mirrors what Archie is going through with his songwriting.
The art teams turn in what I imagine is typical for art in Archie comics. It’s weird that this comic is based on a show that’s based on comics, but the art doesn’t resemble the show. It’s not bad, but’s an odd choice. My favorite of the four teams has to be Thomas Pitilli and Andre Szymanowicz on the Veronica story. It’s more colorful and less conventional than the others, but also has more varied scenery than the suburbs of Riverdale. This is not to imply the rest of the art is bad, but it doesn’t make a strong impression.
Riverdale #1 is meant to open the door for more Archie comics based in the same Universe as Riverdale the show, and while I’m sure there are engaging stories to be told I have to wonder if the regular Archie comics aren’t already filling that niche. I’ve seen the same thing with DC comics, having a tie-in series based on a TV show, and they usually end up hamstrung by continuity constraints than the average big two comic. Of course, future Riverdale comics may avoid this by offering actual stories of the cast that couldn’t be told at the moment since it’s following an overarching plot. For fans of Riverdale who want more of that, I’d recommend they try the comics proper instead for more satisfying reading.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent