Riverdale Season 3 #3
“You’ve Got Mail”
Micol Ostow (Writer), Thomas Pitilli (Artist), Andre Skymanowicz (Colours), John Workman (Letters)
Janice Chiang (Letters), Joe Eisma (Artist), Matt Herms (Colours), Micol Ostow (Writer)
22 May, 2019
Riverdale Season 3 #3 is, by far, the strongest issue of the series. The characters highlighted here have plenty to offer in terms of depth and personality, and considering their lack of screen time on the show, have been fleshed out in comic form.
In “You’ve Got Mail,” Josie McCoy is struggling to balance her singing career, schoolwork, and love. She’s tired all the time, and she’s pushing herself way too hard, but what’s also getting her down is her secret relationship with Sweet Pea, a Southside Serpent. So, when a secret admirer texts her, Josie can’t help but feel she’s finally connecting with someone. But who is on the other side of these messages?
Josie McCoy is the kind of driven, young woman who should have been given more to do in Riverdale, and I’m glad Riverdale Season 3 #3 manages to capture just how much is going on in her life. Writer Micol Ostow gives readers not only a glimpse into Josie’s heart but also how others around her perceive her.
I wasn’t particularly keen on the story focusing on the romance angle as much as it did, but I was genuinely surprised by how the relationship between Josie and Sweet Pea was handled. We know from Riverdale Season 3 that the relationship didn’t work out, and it’s interesting to see that it was because of Josie’s need to hide the relationship, and not something on the part of Sweet Pea, that a rift grew between them. There’s an element of mystery regarding the secret admirer that will be explored in depth in further issues.
In “Funny Games,” Joaquin De Santos writes a letter to his former boyfriend Kevin Keller, seemingly to apologise for ghosting him, but mainly to share a fabricated story about where and how he is, instead of telling Kevin that he is in a juvenile detention centre. Joaquin tries to paint a rosy picture of his circumstances even while he is being bullied and beaten. We know how Joaquin’s story ended, now we learn what happened along the way.
For me, “Funny Games” has to be the strongest story yet in this series. Joaquin De Santos has been a tertiary character in Riverdale, but his sudden disappearance from the show, and reappearance in the same juvenile centre as Archie Andrews, needed more explanation than the show could give. Joaquin and Kevin’s clandestine relationship was interesting to see in the show and it’s great that Riverdale Season 3 #3 uses their relationship as a vehicle to tell Joaquin’s story.
I also like how elements that we have already seen in the show—Archie’s incarceration and the underground boxing club—are introduced in “Funny Games.” We learn how the otherwise kindhearted Joaquin becomes the Judas who betrays Archie in Riverdale. It takes a lot to break Joaquin, but despite his best efforts, the hardship of his circumstances, and his distance from Kevin, finally change him into the man we see on screen. “Funny Games” is harsh and sad, and does more to examine, and criticize, the horrific systems in place at the juvenile centre than the show did. Joaquin is an excellent choice for a protagonist in this story—even more so than Mad Dog or Baby Teeth could have been—because readers would already have known what Joaquin was like before he went into the juvenile centre. I am very impressed, and moved, by this story.
Though it has taken me some time to get used to the art, I think I’ve finally got the hang of it, and I quite like the visual language that artists Thomas Pitilli and Joe Eisma have created. Pitilli’s work is a bit more cartoonish, especially with the distorted faces, but it is working well to convey the sense of mystery in the stories he is working on. I am partial to Eisma’s style, which is cleaner and leans more towards realism. In Riverdale Season 3 #3, Eisma does an excellent job of relaying how violent and terrifying Joaquin’s life has become, which added greatly to the reading experience.
Riverdale Season 3 #3 being this good only underlines how boring the main characters of Riverdale are. It may sound harsh, but Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead aren’t interesting enough in and of themselves to keep the Riverdale Season 3 comic series going. Instead, I would love to know more about Josie, Joaquin, Ethel, Sweet Pea, Reggie, or even characters like Midge and Dilton, who have met their demise in the television series, and I hope that we get to see more of that in coming issues.