Maybe it’s a little too soon. Maybe it’s a little too late. Who knows. All I do know is that the Archie reboot with Mark Waid and Fiona Staples has brought me back to my childhood, and I can only begin to explain how happy this makes me.
A lot of people my age have a comic book history that includes Spawn, Mullet Superman and The Clone Saga. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the books from the 90s. Difference is, I didn’t read them until I was an adult. See, as a kid in West Michigan, my parents didn’t let me buy books like Batman (too scary!), Spider-Man (There’s so many of them!) or Spawn ("IT’S A BOOK ABOUT SATAN DREW. SATAN ISN’T COOL." - My Mom in 1993, probably).
Regardless, because I was still a young boy who had friends reading comic books, I was allowed 3 things:
I could read whatever comics they had at my local library. This was great for the first month of summer each year, until I finished everything they had stocked and was informed there wouldn’t be more for awhile. I was shocked that they didn’t have monthly subscriptions. SHOCKED.
I could read my Picture Bible. That’s right. I had the Picture Bible and you bet your West Michigan Dutch upbringing I read that thing until it fell apart.
Yup, Archie Comics were the only thing I was allowed to buy until I was old enough to make my own money...and bike my own self to a place that sold comics. Thing was, I loved them. I loved Archie, Jughead, and the gang from Riverdale. Sure, as an 8-to-12 year old, I didn’t relate to most of their problems. But Moose was big. I was big. That was cool. Jughead liked burgers. I liked burgers. That was cool. And Archie was just a regular dude like me but pretty girls liked him. THAT was cool. My Grandma would take us all to this corner store in Grand Haven in the summers and let us pick out treats. My treat, every time, was a new issue of Archie.
Fast forward 20 years and I can buy whatever comic books I want for me AND my now-7-year-old son. A trip to the comic shop is part of spending time with Dad, and we both love it. Well, Isaac doesn’t like when Dad and Mr. Grant get lost in back issues but MOSTLY we both enjoy it. And the best part for me? Buying new issues of Archie for him, the way my Grandma and my Mom used to do for me.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking this book is just for nostalgia freaks. It’s a really good book! The art from Fiona Staples has been incredible and the stories Mark Waid is telling are compelling and intriguing and FUN. You remember what it was like to have FUN reading a comic book, don’t you? Back before everything had to be plotted out 5 years in advance to connect to the movie tie in as well as being a tie in to a major crossover all new all different event! Oh and let me not neglect to mention the spectacular work of colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn, and letterer Jack Morelli. A book like this Archie reboot hinges so much on the details, and those 3 have nailed the mood, the feel, and the way it should look down to the last period. The kids in Archie look like kids you see today; They talk like...well, like a slightly easier to understand version of kids of today. It isn’t forced - Waid isn’t trying to hard to sound hip because honestly, most kids don’t!
What I’m trying to get at here is an expression of praise for making a simple comic in a complicated industry. For making a book I like reading on my own that I can read with my son, too. In a time when I have to debate if my son should read current arcs of Batman or X-Men (sorry I judged you, Mom), Archie is a book that I don’t hesitate over. Maybe I’m going soft in my old age, and maybe I’m just finally realizing the value of tradition, but sitting down and reading the very book that was part of my love of comic books growing up with my son is an amazing feeling.
Archie #3 comes out at the end of the month followed by Jughead #1 in early October from Archie Comics. Archie gets new artists for a couple issues in November and December along with a SUPER cool variant from one of my favorites, Fran Francavilla. You should buy it. Unless I'm in line behind you and then leave it for me.