Growing up I never had time for Archie and the gang. I was too busy tracking down the latest offerings from Marvel and DC. Archie was “kids’ stuff”, far too tame for the likes of me! I was a teenager dammit! I wanted sex, drugs and rock n’ roll content that was geared towards adults; not comics about some sissy red-headed dork, who couldn’t choose between two hot chicks. (Yes, I know that sissy, dork, and chicks are all outdated and now slightly offensive, I was young, uncultured, and stuck in the 90’s)
Fortunately for me, my tastes have been refined as I have gotten older and fortunately for the rest of us Archie has stepped up his game in the comic world. Reading the relaunch of this series under the steady hand of Mark Waid has been a blessing. The man knows how to write a heartfelt and moving teen drama that hits you right in the gut with scenes that could have come from anyone’s teenage years.
Take this issue for example. There is a sequence in this issue where Waid takes on breakups. Archie is not with Betty or Veronica and he is feeling lonely for the first time in his young life. He is without his constant companion, he is without is alluring crush, Archie is faced with solitude and he has no experience in being alone. You feel it. You flash back to your own personal experience of that first major crush, that first love; you go back to the heady days of youth and relive that first serious breakup. Oh the tears! Oh the sad alternative music of the 90’s comes rushing back. So melancholy!
For those of us with some years of living under our belts this comic is the perfect time machine to whisk us back to our youth. For those readers who are closer in age to the characters in this comic, it must be like reading your own diary, written by someone else’s hand. (Yes, Mark Waid is reading your minds young ones. He is reading your own personal thoughts) He pens a tale that mirrors the drama of youth so well that he has in fact built a story that might remain timeless.
As for the rest of this issue Betty has been shipped off to a fancy boarding school in Switzerland. Cut off from her family and friends she decides to not show her feelings in front of the other students but instead put on a brave face. This lasts only a few days before she meets up with fellow student (and another famous Archie Comics character) Cherry Blossom. Blossom is a reality TV star that has been sent to the same school after she burns down a house on her reality show.
Cherry seems to be the friend that Betty needs, as the two girls bond over coffee, chatting about missing home. It’s only after a cruel prank on another student that we learn that Ms. Blossom might not be as wholesome and friendly as she first appeared. As the issue comes to a close we are left with the cliffhanger that Cherry now has her sights set on Archie who is Betty’s only weakness.
Final Thoughts: This series is all heart, nothing but heart. It deserves the accolades that it has received from across the industry and from outside media. This series continues to build a well-crafted and well told tale of youth, love and now loss. A must read.
Final Grade: 5 Stars
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comic Publication