Archie Volume #1 Review

Note: This review is going to be as spoiler free as possible, highlighting the main points of the book broadly so that you can experience the book and its secrets for the first time on your own.

Written by: Mark Waid

Art by: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu and Veronica Fish

Publisher: Archie

Archie Comics has been a household name in the comic book industry for the past 75 years and has undergone its fair share of changes over this time. When done right these changes resonate with the age in which they are being published while also staying true to the essence of what makes Archie so beloved. This past year Archie relaunched for the first time since its inaugural issue back in the 40’s, with the new launch of Archie #1 by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. With that first issue Waid and Staples put their own thoughtful, witty, relatable take on Archie and the gang. This stellar start has transferred to all six issues out right now, and all six of them are contained in this collection.

One of the best things about this new Archie is its focus and reverence for Archie’s long history. This is not a book that is trying to give Archie a troubled past or an edgy persona. Instead, this is a book that looks at what makes the people of Riverdale as spectacular as they are and goes about celebreting that in a modern way. Mark Waid has said over and over again in interviews that with this book he’s not trying to “fix” Archie, because frankly there is nothing wrong with Archie. Instead he goes to the root of what makes these characters so iconic and celebrates them in a modern and dare I say hip, way.


The overarching story thread of this first volume focuses on something called “The Lipstick Incident”, a mysterious event that caused the best couple in comics, Betty and Archie to break up. This mystery is played out over the first four issues and the actual incident is revealed in issue #4 via a flashback. This somewhat slow burn works wonderfully as it gives Waid the time to flesh out and establish many characters from Archie’s rich history and some interesting new ones along the way. There is also some very clever use of Archie breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the readers that is unlike any I have witnessed in recent memory. The way in which he interacts with the reader is casual, and remarkably genuine, as if it’s one of your good friends talking to you. For someone who grew up reading Archie comics this connection is something very special and for someone who hasn’t it really gives you a great start to emotionally connecting with the Archie and his universe.

The masterful writing by Mark Waid is only half of what makes Volume 1 of Archie so masterful. The other half comes from the captivating pencils of three of the best artists in the industry today. Fiona Staples (1-3), Annie Wu (4) and Veronica Fish (5,6) combine synchronously and feed off each other’s work and Fiona’s designs to a tee. As much as there has always been this sort of house Archie style, Archie artist Harry Lucey’s art is very much different from fellow artist Dan Decarlo. Annie, Fiona and Veronica operate the same way as even though they are following the precedent set by Fiona’s original character sketches they are putting their own distinct spins on it. This spin melds well and works together to complement each other’s work and very much look like they belong in the same book.

Starting with Fiona Staples, she designed the revamped look of Archie and the gang and just by looking at the cover of this book, it is clear that she hit the ball out of the park (although thankfully no one ended up concussed -Archie #6). Her Riverdale is one that is full of life and people who are drawn crisply and teeming with personality. Her Jughead is one of the most dynamically laid back characters in recent memory and new character Sheila stands out with her black and red streaked hair as someone teeming with personality.The best part of Fiona’s three issue run, artistically is hard to pin down as every page is oozing with mesmerizing portrayals of Riverdale’s finest (and Reggie). That being said there is a standout moment in issue one involving Archie and music that flows spectacularly and is very much the crescendo of the issue.

Annie Wu is only around for one issue, albeit a beautifully drawn one as she handles issue #4 which is very Archie and Betty focused. Her art style is very kinetic and the way in which she draws her characters, especially Archie and Betty are full of energy. Wu’s pencils are clean in an edgy sort of way, that really fit the content and the messy happenings of this issue. If you are a fan of Archie and Betty as a couple then there is a montage of pages that nail that dynamic and will no doubt bring you joy.

Last but not least, Veronica Fish is the biggest surprise artistically. Going into this work I had never even heard of her or seen any of her art but after reading it is clear that she is very much on the rise and someone to look out for in the comic industry. Her style is very grounded in many ways but her expressions are over the top, something that lends itself wonderfully to Waid’s script as she is able to balance comedy scenes with dramatic ones seemingly effortlessly. As for standouts there are two distinct scenes where Fish’s exaggerated expressions shine the brightest. The first involves Fred Andrew’s and his fascination with a home run and the second consists of a very angry Mr. Lodge. Spoilers aside, they are especially hilarious.

Overall, Archie Volume 1 is a master class in how to relaunch a series while staying true to the core of what makes the characters great in the first place. It teams one of the best writers in the industry with three of the best artists in a magical sandwich that is very hip and very Archie. If you have ever read or enjoyed an Archie Comic or are a fan of beautifully drawn, and funny yet thoughtful comics then look no further than Archie Volume #1.