Damn you, Mark Waid. Damn you, Veronica Fish. DAMN YOU, ARCHIE ANDREWS.
Damn you for making me feel all these feels. How can this book make a grown man feel all the things he felt in high school while also feeling the struggles of every relationship he's ever been in?
Archie #9 finds our titular hero in a strange place. Allowed to continue dating the billionaire bombshell Veronica Lodge but barred from entering Lodge Manor, Archie and Ronnie decide to kick it suburbia style at the Andrews' family home. Only problem is, Ronnie isn't about the humdrum life. In an effort to make Ms. Lodge feel more at home, Mrs. Andrews makes an offer that she quickly regrets. And therein we have our set-up and what leads to my damning of writer Mark Waid.
In a single issue, Waid humanizes Veronica on a level we haven't yet experienced during this Archie reboot. Her struggle to be "normal" and help Archie's family is touching and deep. Then in the same issue, he reminds me how much I am freaking YEARNING for Betty and Archie to rekindle the flame.
The All-American power couple has a moment that made me verbally shout in my house. Scared the crap out of the poor dog, so at the least Mark Waid, you owe the dog an apology ... you beautiful man. The moment shared between Archie and Betty is so real, so natural, so TOTALLY SOMETHING THAT WOULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Waid does this better than any current writer in comics. He captures moments we have all experienced and makes us feel them all over again.
This is something so many books about teenagers miss out on - reality.
The best stories aren't incredibly over the top. They are stories we as readers can relate to, find some truth in and feel what the characters are feeling. Waid does this beyond perfectly. He's setting the stage for the greatest conflict of Archie Andrews' young life - Betty or Veronica? The teaser image for next issue (which I won't show you because you need to buy this book) also caused me to shout and startle animals, but that one I put on Veronica Fish.
Fish took over as the series regular artist way back in issue #5 and has just been hitting home runs ever since. I can't imagine following Fiona Staples (with a beautiful one off from Annie Wu in issue #4) on a book of this magnitude was easy, but Veronica Fish has made it look that way. Alongside colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn, and letterer Jack Morelli, Fish has never missed a beat on the streets of Riverdale.
In an incredibly crucial and touching moment between Betty and Archie, Fish draws the pair of once lovers with such care and emotion that it tugged on my heartstrings like Archie playing his "sucktacular day" song. In another particularly poignant moment, she manages to capture a relationship moment many of us have experienced - laughing at your significant other as they yell at you to stop laughing. It leads to some really heartwarming stuff and this issue punches you straight in the heart parts, thanks in large part to the artwork.
Colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn deserve a freaking medal by the way. This book jumps off the page at you. For a story about kids in love and parents trying to deal with it, this book pops more than most traditional superhero books out there. This pair should be more praised for their work on what is shaping up to be one of 2016's best series.
FINAL RATING: 10/10 Mitzushiba 4K 160-Inch Displays
Any book that makes me feel like this book felt gets a perfect rating. Damn you Mark Waid and company. Damn you.