Michael Moreci (Writer), Jeff Parker (Writer), Dan Parent (Artist), J. Bone (Artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colours), Jack Morelli (Letters)
Archie Comics and DC Entertainment
15 August, 2018
Veronica Lodge’s panicked call from Riverdale spurs Batman into action in Gotham City. But even the world’s greatest detective must concede that Riverdale is unfamiliar territory. The Caped Crusaders will be doing themselves no favours by racing in without a plan. Plus, Batman still needs to bring Bookworm to justice. He enlists Alfred’s help to search the rare book collections of Gotham, but no sooner have they begun their mission than a new evil plot unfolds. Can Batman get to the bottom of Bookworm’s sinister plan?
Meanwhile in Riverdale, Archie and the gang’s relaxing afternoon is cut short by Pop announcing that he will no longer be serving teens. His hostile behaviour is made all the more perplexing by the arrival of Pop’s first new guest, none other than Principal Weatherbee, who is actually civil to Archie. Something is definitely wrong here!
And things are about to get worse. Riddler and Siren are looking for some villainous sidekicks, and they’ve just found the perfect candidate in Reggie Mantle. But fear not, just as the villains have found a new ally in Riverdale, so will the heroes. For Riverdale High has received two new transfer students—none other than Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson!
Once again, I am absolutely blown away by the art in this series. Between Dan Parent’s pencilwork, J. Bone’s inks and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colours, this issue more than emulates both the Batman 1966 TV show and the early Archie comics. The art is so vibrant and joyful that, despite the villainy on display, one can’t help but wish to live inside the world of this comic. The Archie comics characters are particularly striking. Aside from the quality of the actual pages of the comic book, this issue could very well be a continuation of the Archie stories from our childhood.
This installment further expands the Archie universe, incorporating more characters from the comics. We meet Cheryl Blossom and Reggie Mantle, and get a glimpse of Moose, Ethel, and Chuck Clayton. We also get to see more of Jughead Jones and his love of food.
What we could do more of in this series, however, are characters of colour. Neither of these properties were particularly ground-breaking in their inclusion of non-white characters, but this series could have done something to change that. For instance, adding Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman instead of Julie Newmar’s would have made for an unexpected and welcome change.
We see Chuck Clayton at Pop’s, but he literally only says two words. The Riverdale TV show has tried to be more inclusive by changing the ethnicity of Reggie Mantle, as well as the Pussycats. This comic series could have done something similar, while maintaining its allegiances to the original properties. Still, the inclusion of Clayton is better than nothing, and one hopes that we will see a concerted effort towards diversity in coming issues.
As enjoyable as it is to see our favourite heroes and teens in this new rendering, something concrete needs to happen for the readers to remain engaged. There are a lot of plot points introduced in this issue, but not much actually happens. After two issues, the protagonists have had no meaningful engagement with each other. There has been more interaction between the Gotham villains than any of the heroes. One wonders whether this series should have taken a leaf out of Avengers: Infinity War’s book and focused on the villains. Their camaraderie is evident on the page and they are by far the most interesting characters.
For a five-issue series, the plot is developing slower than I had expected. This slow-burn approach is not a bad idea, but when each issue has a maximum of 20 pages for the story to unfold, it does make one wonder if much of a plot has been planned out in the first place.
However, the slow set up has laid the foundation for exciting future developments. The villains have found a target for their attacks and the heroes have successfully entered Riverdale. I am certainly eager to see Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon mingling with Archie, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the gang. There are already hints at possible romantic pairings that will also keep readers interested. And let us not forget the mystery of Bookworm’s plot that Batman is working on with Alfred. As I said, there is a plenty happening here! I would like to see Archie’s gang in Gotham, a possibility hinted at by the variant covers for this issue.
Though the series has been a fun read, it feels like the writers have bitten off more than they can chew. There are several characters, a convoluted plot, and two distinctly different locations sparring for attention. Thus far, the writers have struggled to give equal attention, but now that the plot is well and truly established, I feel that the story will take on a life of its own and the characters will have more room to interact and grow. Despite my trepidation, I will certainly be tuning in next month, same bat-time, same bat-channel for more Batman and Archie adventures.