Archie #3, cover by Fiona Staples, Archie Comics 2015 Archie #3

Mark Waid (script), Fiona Staples (art), Andre Szymanowicz (colors), Jack Morelli (letters)
Archie Comics
September 30, 2015

Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Archie Comics.

What were your first impressions of Archie #3?

Ginnis Tonik: Maybe it was just me, but there was something about this issue that felt off. I think the thing that most excited me about this issue was learning that we finally get to learn about the lipstick incident in the next issue. I liked seeing Ronnie, but the pacing felt off? Am I wrong?

Ardo Omer: It’s a feeling I’ve been having since issue #2, so it’s not only you. I don’t feel like I’m getting … enough from these issues. I don’t feel like I did after reading issue #1. The excitement is wearing off.

Gin: I didn’t feel that way about issue #2, but this issue just didn’t give me the same sparks, though I did enjoy seeing more of Veronica.

Ardo: Yes. I loved more of Veronica in this story.

Gin: Now, I need Cheryl Blossom!

How do you feel about the reboot thus far? What it is doing and where it is headed?

Gin: Like so many third issues this one felt like a slight dip in pacing and storytelling for me, but I feel like the essence of Archie is still there, but the updated tweaks are pretty spot-on, like Ronnie being a reality television star.

Ardo: Veronica being a reality star felt very Veronica. I’m used to a laid back and chill Jughead, so it was weird seeing him be so proactive when it comes to Veronica/Archie. I honestly have no idea where the reboot is going, and I’m not sure if I’m as invested as I was after reading issue #1.

Gin: Invested is the right word, because I was chomping at the bit for issue #1-3, but am less anticipatory of issue #4 … well, except for Annie Wu on art. I am by no means giving up on the series, but the structure is just feeling a little off to me.

Archie #3

What did you think of Veronica’s portrayal?

Gin: I dug it, though the way she talks throws me off—she sounds like a PR mogul, but that does make sense with her revised background. I also think the art is so point—the bob is sharp, the bodycon dress, and on-trend booties with a structured jacket, not to mention those snooty/mean-girl facial expressions. Also, we got a little humanity, but she was still largely insufferable, so, that’s Ronnie to me. (It is also why I love her.)

Ardo: She’s the Veronica we know and love. I like that they added depth to her character and some vulnerability. They teased a friendship between her and Betty, which is something that I really want to happen. I think you can still have conflict between friends, and I wasn’t a fan of them being depicted as adversaries in the past. That last Veronica outfit is to die for FYI.

Gin: Did you read at the end how Waid wants to pull away from the frenemies thing, because he doesn’t really understand it? I think maybe frenemies is a very gendered experience, and it doesn’t surprise me that this is something Waid can’t wrap his brain around.

Ardo: It is very gendered, and done wrong, it can come across very catty. I wonder how a woman would approach the Betty and Veronica relationship from a frenemy standpoint, but I’m glad Waid is pulling away from it. I’d like a different take on this relationship.

Gin: I think I would only be comfortable with a woman writing that, and if it is done smartly, where it shows how this bizarre sort of thing is so often a reality in the world of young girls who are socialized to see one another as competition for male interest. But, glad Waid just said “nope, not going there,” and I am at least interested to see how that will be handled.

Art, art, art—whatcha think? Can Fiona Staples do any wrong? Is it even possible?

Gin: Obviously, no. But, do the chapter breaks and lettering work for you?

Ardo: I think the chapter breaks are what is causing the weird pacing issue. Also, I’m not a fan of the titles of those chapter breaks. They feel thrown in. Fiona Staples’ art is gorgeous, and I love her decision to give Veronica a bob. Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn’s colours are fantastic and essential to the feel of the series. That combo is what’s getting me to keep reading.

Gin: It seems like such a minor thing, but the chapter breaks really throw off my reading groove. I imagine they are trying to replicate the structure of older Archie comics, but I don’t know if that works for a comic that certainly acknowledges Archie as its origin, but is really very different in terms of structure.

Ardo: Agreed. Give nods to the original comic, but don’t let it undermine what you’re trying to achieve. I wouldn’t mind if they got rid of it completely.