Riverdale Vol. 2
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (stories); Aaron Elling, Will Ewing, Michael Grassi, Ross Maxwell, Brian E Paterson, Tessa Leigh Williams (writers); Joe Eisma, Thomas Pitilli (artists); Janice Chiang, John Workman (letters); Andre Szymanowicz (colors)
As season two of the CW’s hit TV show Riverdale draws to a close, Archie Comics stands ready to ensure fans don’t have to go too long without a fix of their favorite characters. Riverdale vol. 2 showcases friends and rivals whose stories aren’t explored as deeply in the show as Veronica, Archie, Betty, and Jughead. Collecting issues #4-8 of the series, it’s a fun look into what happens between episodes and fleshes out the titular town.
For instance, have you ever wondered why Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe is so popular and longlasting in a tiny town like Riverdale? Curious about why Reggie acts like such an ass? Have you found yourself asking how in the world a kid like Kevin survives when he’s the only out-and-proud gay person we see? Why is Dilton Doiley so obsessed with survivalism? And what, exactly, would happen if our happy couples ran away for a weekend in the Big Apple? Get your answers in the pages of Riverdale.
Riverdale combines six writers (Aaron Elling, Will Ewing, Michael Grassi, Ross Maxwell, Brian E Paterson, and Tessa Leigh Williams), two artists (Joe Eisma and Thomas Pitilli), and two letterers (Janice Chiang and John Workman) to breathe life into Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s stories. They give each character a unique voice in keeping with their personalities, while Andre Szymanowicz’s colors pull everything together.
I particularly appreciate Szymanowicz’s deft use of the same colors to evoke very different emotions. In “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” it’s unhappy Kevin literally blue against the bright pink backdrop of the dance floor. The same shades lend a foreboding sense to Dilton Doiley in the light of a bloody evening moon as he predicts the end of the world at the beginning of “Apocalypse Now!”
Of the five stories showcased in Riverdale, I have to say “Chock’lit Shoppe of Horrors” is the one that hit it out of the park for me. Thematically, it best fits the sort of retro-gothic feel I get from most episodes of the show. The story brings a little bit of the supernatural, a little history, and a lot of fun, all set against the backdrop of the best darn burger and shake shop in town.
On a more serious note, I think the fact that “Chock’lit Shoppe of Horrors” is also the story least likely to remind someone of painful moments in their life makes it more appealing to me. Sometimes I just want a little bit of an escape from the loneliness, misogyny, toxic masculinity, emotional scars, and confusion of growing up. Just as the Riverdale tv show doesn’t shy away from heavy topics, neither do the comics. The origin of Pop’s burger joint comes smack in the middle of volume 2, and it gives readers a bit of a breather before diving back into serious topics.
So if you find yourself going through withdrawal waiting for season three, pick up a copy of Riverdale volume 2. Bring it along on summer break and get to know the town a little better.