Riverdale Season 3 #5: A Tempered Finale to a Mixed Series

Betty and Jughead do some investigating in Riverdale Season 3 #5 Cover A by Thomas Pitilli. Archie Comics. July 2019.

Riverdale Season 3 #5

‘Lady Sings the Blues’
Micol Ostow (Writer), Thomas Pitilli (Artist), Andre Skymanowicz (Colours), John Workman (Letters)
‘Into the Wild’
Janice Chiang (Letters), Joe Eisma (Artist), Matt Herms (Colours), Micol Ostow (Writer)
Archie Comics
31 July, 2019

Riverdale Season 3 #5 marks the end of this limited series tie-in with The CW show. My feelings about this series have covered a wide spectrum of emotions—from impressed to annoyed—and this final issue falls somewhere in between.

Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty in Riverdale Season 3 #5 Cover B by Joe Eisma. Archie Comics. July 2019

In “Lady Sings The Blues,” Josie McCoy is struggling to understand what to do with life now that her Juilliard audition’s failed to secure her a place at the prestigious school. Boyfriend Archie Andrews takes it upon himself to make her feel better—by booking a gig in New York. The catch? They have to stay with Josie’s estranged father.

The first story of Riverdale Season 3 #5 is heart-warming in many ways. Josie and Archie aren’t the perfect couple—mainly because Archie is a terrible boyfriend—but this story tries to showcase a rare moment when he goes above and beyond to make Josie happy. Unlike many of the opening stories in this series, this installment is much lighter, and only vaguely tied to the show. But it also feels rushed, which makes it a confusing read at times. There seemed to be too many jump cuts in this story—it often felt like I was missing scenes that had fallen through the panels—and those final panels were frustratingly vague. That hasn’t happened through this series, so it was particularly annoying to have to feel this way in the finale.

The focus of this story could have been more refined. The point of view switches between Archie and Josie, and with only 12 pages to play with, there simply isn’t time to develop both their personalities and share their impressions. I feel like this may have added to the confusion I felt while reading it.

The second story, “Into the Wild,” was more coherent. Riverdale High’s cheer squad are on their way to a competition, when their bus breaks down. Stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell signal, Betty Cooper decides to look for higher ground for a connection. She finds disturbing signs that the squad are not alone. This story was also darker than its predecessors, but I loved the tie-in with Gryphons and Gargoyles. I feel like Micol Ostow managed to capture the voices of the characters much better here than in the opening tale. This is surprising, because he has been consistently good in this aspect throughout the series.

Having said that, I’m not sure why Cheryl comes across as hysterical in “Into the Wild.” She is nothing if not over-the-top on the show, but she’s rude and uncouth here, which seems out of character. Aside from Cheryl’s personality, there was a lot I liked in this story. There’s a healthy dose of humor, something that has been seriously lacking in this series. The general air of mystery was a welcome addition and the slow-burn reveal about how the Gryphons and Gargoyles are tied into the tour bus’ sudden breakdown was unexpected and exciting.

Though I have gotten used to Joe Eisma’s art in the second stories of this series, I found the characters in Riverdale Season 3 #5 so radically different from their on-screen counterparts, that I actually needed to check every few minutes which character I was looking at. I don’t expect artists to recreate live-action characters in comic book form, but the characters here were seriously hard to recognize.

All in all, this has been a mixed series and my contrasting feelings about issue #5 sum up how I’ve felt about the series as a whole. There were some excellent moments, but for the most part, I found myself questioning what the point of these stories were. As a tie-in to a popular show, one would have expected the comics to expand the universe, but aside from one issue focusing on tertiary characters, most of this series failed to tell us anything we didn’t already know.

I wanted to enjoy Riverdale Season 3, and especially the finale, but I have come away feeling like I haven’t learned anything new about Riverdale or its citizens. I want to think that next season’s tie-ins will be more exciting, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir