This book left me with a giant smile. Because it's everything I wanted and so much more.
Betty and Veronica were my original childhood crushes. They are America's sweethearts fighting over the same sweetheart, but that isn't where artist/writer Adam Hughes starts this storied pair.
Instead, he pits the titular heroines in a fight for the very soul of Riverdale. We get a low key intro to Midge, more of Moose (YES MORE MOOSE) and an interesting choice of narrator: Hot Dog!
The opening pages however, are incredible. The dialogue Hughes writes between Archie and Jughead is brilliant and borderline on my favorite flurry of word bubbles this year. The boys meandering conversation leads perfectly into our meeting of Adam's vision of the leading ladies in Archie's young life.
JESUS, this book is beautiful.
I can't get over how insanely good this book looks. Hughes is something special here, and there should be no shortage of credit sent to colorist Jose Villarrubia, who perfectly matches the tone and style.
His color palette is uncanny and draws your eyes exactly where they should go.
Seriously, I could go on for days about the art in this book, but I won't. You can look at it when you buy it. Because you need to buy it.
Hughes also goes IN on the writing, giving us more words than a Gilmore Girls episode. The banter, the references, the background info, it's almost overwhelming.
Could you call it overly wordy? Sure.
Could you say having a ton of words is fitting for a book starring two popular teenage girls? Absolutely, and I fall in the latter camp.
The words and dialogue fit perfectly with the story. Hughes doesn't miss a step here. He brings both the whip and the nae nae. Am I doing that right? Probably not.
And then there's the variant covers.
There are 25 variants available for this relaunch of Archie Comics lovely ladies and they are ALL gorgeous. The sheer volume of them was a point of contention between myself and Grant on this week's podcast but I maintain my stance - This is good for everyone. Vault of Midnight in GR had PLENTY of options to choose from! I got to have my favorite one AND could have picked up many others if I wanted.
I understand Grant's point that this would frustrate "collectors" but for someone like me and for comic shops like Vault, this was a great move from Archie Comics. So many great artists got to showcase their take on an iconic female duo and it celebrates the power of these women. What is there not to love about this?
OVERALL RATING: 10/10
Mark Waid set the bar high with Archie, Chip Zdarsky nailed it with Jughead, and now, Adam Hughes has knocked it out of the park with his take with Betty and Veronica.
Wow. Just ... wow.