This week we take a return trip to Riverdale with Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ Archie #2, and Colossus and his X-Men continue the struggle to save Magik in Inferno #3!
Archie #2 (Archie Comics)
Two issues in and it’s safe to say, the reboot of Archie works. After a great reintroduction to Archie and the citizens of Riverdale, Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ second issue puts most of the focus on Betty Cooper, who’s taking her break up with Archie just as well as he is.
Betty’s clearly down in the dumps, and while her friends are trying to get her to not worry about Archie, it’s her birthday, and she wishes that she and Archie could work out their problems. Speaking of problems and Archie, Mr. Andrews is in desperate need of cash, which finds him taking on any job he can, which at the moment is working construction on Hiram Lodge’s new mansion outside of town. After causing one too many accidents, Archie’s let go from the job, but sticks around to clean up his mess, where he catches the eye of Hiram’s daughter, Veronica…
One of the things that makes this new update of Archie work so well is Mark Waid’s script. Waid is able to tap into that feeling of unease and excitement of youth that can only be described as, well, high school. Reading Archie is like taking a trip back in time to being a teenager, but without all the angst. Waid is also able to update and modernize Archie, Jughead, and Betty in ways that make them relatable, but also doesn’t seem like he’s trying too hard. They all read and act like real teenagers. As with nearly everything else Waid writes, he’s hitting this out of the park.
As great as Mark Waid’s writing is, the real star of Archie is Fiona Staples. While Waid’s script gives Archie and Betty the characteristics of modern teenagers, Staples’ art modernizes them even more while keeping the characters true to their classic looks. The best example of this is Betty. I won’t lie; I might have a crush on Staples’ Betty. She’s the perfect girl next door, and Staples’ panels with her getting ready for her party are the highlights of the book. They showcase everything that makes her one of the best artists out there today: they’re dynamic, entertaining, and have a ton of charm.
If Archie Comics’ plan was to get 28 year old dudes to start reading Archie again, then they’ve succeeded. While I have no idea how long the Waid and Staples train will go, I’m in it for as long as they decide to go (and no, I can’t believe it either). Archie is the perfect book to spice up your monthly reading pile, and is just waiting to surprise you.
Inferno #4 (Marvel Comics)
Of all of the X-Men Secret Wars tie-in books, Inferno has been my favorite. From the time I was young, for some reason this event has stuck out in my mind as a favorite. Perhaps it was the fact that Mr. Sinister appeared in it. Or maybe it’s because Wolverine turned into a monster. Or maybe it’s because the Spider-Man tie-in had the Hobgoblin fight the Green Goblin (it’s probably that). Whatever the case, I’ve really been enjoying Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron’s Inferno series, which finally introduces Mr. Sinister to the fold this issue.
Well, let me go back. This issue does introduce Mr. Sinister, and Hopeless does an awesome job writing him, but Sinister doesn’t show up until almost the end point of the book. Much of the early parts of Inferno #4 focus on the inner workings of the demonic forces, their total invasion of New York City, and Cyclops losing his title as Baron to Magick. While that’s all well and good, none of it really progresses the main story of Inferno much. This was a miniseries that started with a great hook (Colossus recruits new X-Men every year and attempts to save his sister from demons) and that’s quickly getting sidetracked. It’s starting to feel a little like Hopeless is just cramming in stuff from the original event instead of focusing on the main narrative.
At least the art by Javier Garron has remained consistent. Garron goes to town this issue, drawing crazy demons and possessed buildings and cars, and even showing us some more messed up X-Men as well. I particularly like his redesign for Sinister, who now looks more like a demonic Gepetto from Pinocchio then a guy with a crazy razor blade cape.
Inferno is wrapping up pretty soon, so there’s plenty of time for Hopeless and Garron to stick the landing. Hopefully this issue was just a fluke, as I’ve really liked the other issues of this series. I’d hate to see it fall apart right at the end, especially because this is such a cool “what if” corner of Secret Wars.