Round Two is a curious one. Both Free Comic Book Day Archie titles available have taken full advantage of the huge popularity of the Riverdale TV series, featuring several pages of character profiles from the show.
Archie comics have delighted countless fans for many years, and in recent times they’ve evolved from being cartoon comedy to full-on teen dramas.
Yet one is distinctly about the new Riverdale show, while the other is definitely set in the more modern world of Archie, blending the originals with a more updated vibe. So both may technically be representing the same product, but they’re coming at it from very different angles. Like with squabbling siblings, one is destined to triumph over the other.
Featuring two separate prologue stories to the TV series, this issue delves into the events of the summer before the show begins. The first covers Archie’s tale, as he works construction with his dad and subsequently develops his new muscular physique. He also takes up writing songs, and his relationship with Miss Grundy is highlighted. The second tale is of Veronica and how her life is thrown into upheaval when her father is arrested for fraud and embezzlement.
The writing and art in both are good, and both tales give some more backstory to the first episode of the show. While some of the events shown will be familiar to regular viewers, they’re also great little additions which should help readers understand the mindsets of the characters. All in all, it’s a very good read.
Betty & Veronica:
Right from the opening page, you know this is something different. Why? Because it’s narrated by Hot Dog, Jughead’s loyal pooch. And if you think that’s goofy, you’d be right. It’s also brilliant, and adds an incredibly intelligent “meta” level to the rather basic story of who would win in a classic comic book battle – Betty or Veronica?
With jokes ranging from mild slapstick to genuinely intelligent comedy, the premise revolves around Pop’s diner closing down (again) and the gang getting together to try and save it. While Adam Hughes’s art is (as usual) absolutely beautiful, it’s his writing which really hits home. Fast zingers, in-jokes and insults mix with philosophy seamlessly, allowing this to go far beyond any predictable teen comedy or drama you can imagine.
While Riverdale is good, there’s no debate at all that Betty & Veronica is superior in every way. Not only is it better than its rival Archie title here, it’s also the standout issue of all of this year’s Free Comic Book Day titles. It’s a joy to read, and hands down the clear winner. If you didn’t pick this issue up, you missed out on the best of the bunch.