Five Takes on Archie #2: Cars, Makeovers, and The New Girl in Town

Archie #2

Archie #2Archie #2

Mark Waid (w), Fiona Staples (p), Andre Szymanowicz, and Jen Vaughn (c)
Archie Comics
August 19, 2015
Disclaimer: A digital copy of Archie #2 was provided by Archie Comics for review.

Had enough Archie yet? Neither have we! Issue #2 sees Archie and Betty still recovering from their breakup. Archie looks for an after school job so he can fix his car, and Betty gives herself a makeover in preparation for her birthday party. Then Archie gets a glimpse of the new girl in town, none other than Veronica Lodge.

So, Archie fans (or not-fans), what do you think of Issue #2? Did it live up to the expectations set in Issue #1?

Ardo Omer: I liked Issue #2, but I’m not sure if I like it more or less than #1. This issue felt like I blinked and it ended. Maybe I was really enjoying it, or maybe there wasn’t enough happening, but it flew right by.

Kayleigh Hearn: This issue really wasn’t what I wanted. That doesn’t make it a bad comic, but after Issue #1’s cliffhanger my mind was screaming, “VERONICA! VERONICA! VERONICA!” While she does finally appear, she takes a backseat to generic teen sitcom stories about Archie wanting to fix his car and Betty getting a makeover. Archie shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, but I wanted something newer, fresher.

Desiree Rodriguez: I’ll be honest, I’m a “non-Archie” fan, not in that I don’t like the series, just that—like Claire said in the first Archie review roundup — I don’t get it. I’ve seen the books in public and other supermarkets for years, but the art never appealed to me. So. I skipped out on Archie #1, but after hearing all the good reviews my interest piqued, but I tried to keep my expectations moderate to avoid any sort of disappointment.

Ginnis Tonik: I liked it as much. I think it deftly balanced the sort of slice of teenage life stories common to Archie with the bigger story. I want the slice of life stories, because I want to see this sort of character development that Archie has not historically done. Like Kayleigh, my mind was also screaming, “VERONICA! VERONICA! VERONICA!” But unlike Kayleigh, I didn’t feel let down. I thought dragging it out and making me wait until the very end to finally see Ronnie was worth it and perfect for the type of character she is and has the potential to be in the right hands.

Megan Purdy: I was disappointed by the lack of Veronica, but I’m also anticipating her eventual fiery introduction to Riverdale High even more. So, I’d say the delaying tactic worked. This was a solidly Archie issue, so it may be helpful for new readers to get to know him before we settle into the plot proper. Archie is still a hapless klutz, blessed by good friends and strange luck. Jughead still doesn’t gaf. Betty is still basically perfect (and that’s okay). It’s also a kind of introduction to the typical beats of an Archie story. While this issue is still part of the larger first arc of Archie, it’s broken up into sequential vignettes—Waid’s take on typical Archie Comics storytelling, I think.  

Archie #2What was your single favorite aspect of Issue #2? Is there anything you’re not happy with?

Kayleigh: The art is fantastic. I love Saga, but it’s nice to read a Fiona Staples book where I can enjoy adorable teens having fun, down-to-earth adventures without worrying about which character is going to get crushed to death by a gigantic alien centaur penis, you know? I was unhappy with Betty’s subplot. It’s so She’s All That—Betty takes off her overalls and puts on false eyelashes and bam! She’s gorgeous! Like she isn’t already a super cute conventionally attractive skinny blonde? I would have preferred Betty saying “fuck it” to the rigorous beauty standards (that she didn’t seem to be enjoying anyway) and coming down to her birthday party in jeans and a baseball cap. Oh well, maybe in Issue #3? Also, I was SUPER disappointed at the lack of Veronica. Only a handful of panels, and no dialogue! I really want her to shake Riverdale up.

Ardo: I agree with Kayleigh. I liked Jughead’s backstory and just want more of him. I honestly want more of everyone else except Archie. Who is Archie? Who is this person who earns this kind of loyalty from so many people? I don’t get him. Yes, he is physically hawt, but his personality still perplexes me as it did before the relaunch (i.e. bo-ring).

Desiree: Reading Archie #2, I was less than impressed; it’s not terrible, just very generic. I’m not sure how I felt about Betty being portrayed as “not like other girls” or her friend peer pressuring her into a makeover. There was a feeling of “Haha, look at how silly and shallow these beauty trends are” that I didn’t really like. Jughead was surprisingly fun to read about even if I rolled my eyes a bit at his backstory and hatred of money. I found him endearing and a breath of fresh air compared to the other generic characters. Fiona Staples’ artwork, as always, was lovely. Staples is able to differentiate the characters in a really nice way, and the colors by Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn were really lovely. I have a feeling if I continue reading Archie, I’m going to end up joining Ginnis on Team Veronica. 

Gin: Success! I have another convert to #TeamVeronica. But, yeah, total agreement on “Betty meets She’s All That,” though I loved how Staples drew her on the bed with her arms and legs up like “just dress me.” Her friendship with Sheila is important to me as someone who grew up on Betty and Veronica BFFs/frenemies. I want to see Betty in those types of female friendships. I loved the gang more than Archie himself, which speaking of, that little snippet with Midge was great, this sort of condescending, “Oh, Moose, you are adorbs.” I am interested in what that relationship will be like considering its super problematic past. I seriously cannot wait for Zdarsky and Henderson to get their hands on Jughead. This seems to be setting him up for an interesting direction when Zdarsky steps in.

Megan: Ginnis, I agree. I’m looking forward to learning about Archie through other characters’ eyes. This whole New Riverdale venture is about trying to make Archie relevant to new and lapsed readers, so building Archie-the-character up through his relationships and through their perceptions of him can only help Archie and the line as a whole.

I’m of two minds regarding the Betty story. I agree with you, Kayleigh, that it was a little too She’s All That and that the last thing we need is another heroine who’s “not like other girls.” But does the story show Betty feeling better after the makeover or empowered by it? Does Betty really want to change or just to stop feeling about about her breakup? Betty is traditionally a very feminine character who is also into sports, science, and cars. What I’m hoping is that Waid is doing a coming of age in miniature, where Betty learns to be comfortable with all sides of herself and becomes the confident character we know.

Archie #2So far, are these Archie characters any different from canon? How do you feel about that?

Ardo: Jughead feels more punk cool versus dorky pothead (vibe versus actually smoking pot). Betty feels like she has a little more personality compared to her Archie’s Weird Mysteries days and a little less possessive, but I don’t read enough of the older Archie comics to compare. Archie feels like Archie, and we don’t see enough of everyone else.

Kayleigh: Jughead’s backstory is new, right? Jughead is the Wolverine of the Archie universe in that his past is best left a mystery. Why the “S” on his shirt? What’s with the hat that makes him look like a newsie from 1923? What kind of fucking nickname is “Jughead?” Who cares? Those little unexplained details help make Jughead the wily Puck-like trickster he is. Waid’s “poor little rich boy” backstory feels forced, especially when you realize that all of Jughead’s friends—including Archie—are calling him by a name that makes fun of his family going bankrupt.

Desiree: I have nothing to compare these characters too, only what I know of them through pop culture and the like. I’m with Kayleigh though; Jughead’s backstory seemed rather by-the-numbers, and I was confused as to why his friends would call him a nickname that had a rather nasty history to it. That being said, I got the same “vibe” Ardo did, which I did like.

Gin: I think it’s pretty easy to make these characters different from canon, because Archie Comics have not been much for canon and more for here’s a fun, formulaic story (okay, since I stopped reading them in the mid-90s!). The characters have always been pretty one-dimensional, so anything adding something more compelling interests me. I generally liked Jughead’s backstory. I don’t think I am looking for innovative backstories so much as some intriguing character development that makes sense.

Megan: I think these characters are all recognizable as Riverdalians, but they’ve got a hell of a lot more depth. They’re different, but only in ways that match the shift in story tone. New Riverdale is supposed to be more teen drama than magical realism hijinks, so the characters need to be able to emote and angst convincingly; it’s all of a piece.

Where do you hope this series is going with Archie and company? What would you most like to see?

Ardo: I want Veronica and Betty to become best friends in the next issue. I want Ronnie to set Riverdale on fire (not literally, but maybe literally).

Kayleigh: Yes! Betty and Veronica’s friendship will always be more interesting to me than the love triangle shenanigans. (There’s a reason I gobbled up the Betty and Veronica Double Digests as a kid, but left Archie’s main book on the shelf.) And with only one issue in her run left, I’m crossing my fingers hard for Fiona Staples’ take on Cheryl Blossom. Right now, Riverdale needs 200% more rich bitches.

Desiree: Less generic safe 90s teen comedy storylines. I have no interest in reading a love triangle between the “good guy” and the “bad girl” a.k.a. the Virgin versus the Madonna trope. I don’t think Waid would be able to handle that in such a way that it doesn’t come off terribly, especially given how Betty’s subplot was handled in this issue. Instead of being subversive, it just played into old cliches and tropes that are tired. I want Archie to get an actual personality other than cute bumbling protagonist that everyone loves for … reasons. I don’t mind the teen-lit, kid-friendly storylines—not everything has to be Skins—but I do hope for less overall generic storylines and a better rounded out supporting cast.

Gin: I don’t want Archie to get a personality! There is something intriguing and potentially subversive to me in this generic hetero white male character surrounded by far more interesting characters. Archie is supposed to be the “everyman,” whatever the heck that is, so I think there is something interesting to be done with that trope.

Megan: C H E R Y L  B L O S S O M. Betty and Veronica as enemies, frenemies, and then friends. Both of them hating Cheryl, but Betty eventually coming around on her. Veronica and Cheryl signing a blood oath to stay in hate forever. Meanwhile, Jughead living up to his shirt, Archie just straight up bumbling through life—he’s a bumbler and that will never change—and all those great side characters getting subplots and snarky lines.

Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.

9 thoughts on “Five Takes on Archie #2: Cars, Makeovers, and The New Girl in Town

  1. I liked this issue. Probably equal to how much I liked the first one. Megan, I think a lot of my reactions were pretty in line with yours. This is Archie’s series so I think it makes sense that they would spend some time on just him before jumping into more Jughead or more Veronica (also I imagine we’ll see a lot more of both of them in their own series).

    I also really liked the Betty make over scene as well. It’s very in line with what I’ve always like about Betty in that she can be multiple things. Like she can be a tomboy and a mechanic and also get dressed up and be drop dead gorgeous. Those aren’t two conflicting sides to her and I always liked that message growing up that you could be both things (rather than Veronica who felt like she was always dressed to the nines and fabulous). Also a make over is totally in line with my own post break up behaviour. I’ve tended to force myself to go out and buy some new nice clothes or get my hair cut/dyed because it makes me feel better/more confident than wallowing.

    Last thing – I really really want the Lipstick incident to be that Betty cheated with another girl. I am not biasing that on anything in the text but I think it could fit. Plus I’ve always had a huge crush on Betty so it would fit my own personal canon haha.

  2. Those were great comments from everyone, except I disagree that it’s okay for Betty to be perfect. I really hope this reboot does away with her Mary Sueness.

    1. I think there’s something to female power fantasies, and Betty could be considered one, but she’s a very specific power fantasy that feels very much directly solely at white, straight, cis women? I found I couldn’t personally relate to her, but I can see why others would.

      1. I think there is definitely some truth to that, at least in regards to the modern Betty.

      1. I honestly can’t think of any way that she is, nowadays. Unless we count “being too nice and self sacrificing” as a flaw, which brings me back to my Mary Sue comment.

        1. Do you mean the Betty in these two issues? What about the ineffectual, jealous Betty from Archie Horror?

          1. Sorry it took me so long to reply to this but I needed to get around to reading all the issues of Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to see what you were talking about. I finally did and I still don’t see it. The moments where Betty is jealous or ineffectual are so slight I didn’t even notice them the first time and still don’t know for sure if they’re the moments you mean. The moment in the Halloween party where she freezes when she sees Ethel? The moment when she asks Archie if he’s been concerning himself with Veronica? Her behavior is so brief, harmless and inoffensive that calling these “flaws” is a big stretch, and she never does anything worse than that. In fact, I think she is even less flawed in these books than the kids’ comics, if such a thing is possible.

            And I’m afraid my hopes were for nothing because she’s still pretty perfect in the reboot, too.

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