“Archie” #700 seemed like business-as-usual until the cliffhanger teased a brand new direction for the comic. The issue also marked a turning point in the creative team with author Nick Spencer taking over the title from Mark Waid. Artist Marguerite Sauvage is also contributing work to the interior art for the story. In the first issue following the big milestone, will Spencer and Sauvage be able to keep up the frantic intrigue for their follow-up installment?
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Marguerite Sauvage
Lettered by Jack Morelli
Archie Andrews has a secret— and he’s not the only one! These days, it seems like everyone in Riverdale has something to hide— but when their perfect small town life is rocked by a mysterious surprise, the truth starts tumbling out.
Join writer Nick Spencer (Amazing Spider-Man) and artist Marguerite Sauvage (DC’s Bombshells) on January 2, 2019 for Part 2 of “How I Wasted My Summer Vacation!”
“Archie” has the main plot centered around Andrews and his love life with the Riverdale cast. The issue also has a shocking additional subplot surrounding the disappearance of Reggie Mantle’s father. Spencer’s script does a great job balancing both plot threads and twists for each story. While Mantle’s portion of the plot is only getting started, readers are already getting some interesting teases at what could be next for Archie, Betty, and Veronica. Widening the scope of Riverdale with characters from other Archie comics series is a welcomed addition to the narrative.
Waid’s initial run on “Archie” did a phenomenal job establishing the measured and bright tone for the series. Getting another writer to fill the complicated thread Waid built was going to be tricky, but Spencer’s sense of humor from books like “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man” really comes into play here. Jughead has a nonsensical narrative that is equal parts sad and humorous. Spencer also does a great job making sure the scripts for “Archie” have a subtext and doesn’t spell out everything about the series directly on the page. Just like in real life, people aren’t telling each other what they actually think or feel. Spencer gives the script distance and trusts Sauvage’s body language to convey additional aspects of the story.
Sauvage’s contributions to the comic are another particularly great aspect of the issue. Her facial expressions and confused looks for Archie convey additional aspects of the story through her art alone. “Archie” is essentially a slow-paced soap opera where the surprise looks and facial expressions matter that much more in keeping the book interesting. The issue features a lot of confused, surprised expressions from both Archie and Reggie that are fascinating to look at in each and every panel Sauvage renders them in. The book features lots of fantasy sequences and the opening pages, in particular, have a really excellent sense of design from Sauvage. Some of the work with Sabrina already suggests that the title could take on a slight horror vibe based on some of the teases and foreshadowing Spencer and Sauvage lend visually to the title. The flashback sequences are some of the most interesting in the book thanks to the great composition of the page.
In order for “Archie” to truly work, the creative team really need to be able to work together. Thankfully, Sauvage and Spencer lend a lot of character to every page in the issue. Spencer’s scenes are over-the-top while still feeling grounded and allow Sauvage to explore the complicated emotions behind each scene. There is an excellent page where Jughead’s summer experiences are juxtaposed with Mantle’s storyline. Watching the two scenes converge onto one page in such a natural way is a testament to Sauvage’s willingness to push the medium of comics forward.
The black sheep of the issue is the final page which teases a ludicrous plot point that could make the title match up with Archie’s television counterpart ‘Riverdale’ more closely. There is a big risk that Spencer is moving the plot of the issue forward too quickly. The pacing in the story needs to be able to define what is going on with Archie and Sabrina while making sure readers don’t get too comfortable with the duo. Reggie’s current status also needs to be handled with care depending on how violent Spencer is interested in taking the plot line.Continued below
Even though the idea of Sabrina coming to Riverdale as Archie’s girlfriend is pretty wild, it is the shake-up the traditional status quo of “Archie” needed to stay fresh. I hope the full creative team will continue the fascinating pacing and plotting while still keeping the pace a little more restricted akin to what Waid wrote in the previous installment. Above all else, it is extremely refreshing to see that “Archie” is willing to get more adventurous with Spencer’s intriguing scripts and Sauvage’s hypnotic art.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – “Archie” #701 does a great job exploring Archie’s post-summer break status quo.