After writer Mark Waid finished his run on the ongoing “Archie” comic book series, the new “Archie” scribe Nick Spencer introduced a whole new direction for Archie Andrews. Spencer brought lots of new plot developments for the series but little in the way of explanation. Over the past five issues, it has been hilarious to see Archie Andrews and his supporting cast members react to the changes Spencer brought to the series while pushing other plotlines forward. The title is finally showing us the flashbacks to what happened between Waid and Spencer’s scripts. Will flashing back to a previous plot point and stretch of time derail the momentum of the scripts? Does the new co-writer, Mariko Tamaki complement Spencer’s tone on the book? What tone will artistic creator Jenn St-Onge lend to the aesthetic of the series with #706 also serving as her series debut?
Written by Nick Spencer and Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
Colored by Matt Herms
Lettered by Jack Morelli
Archie and Sabrina are the hottest couple in Riverdale-but how did their whirlwind romance come to be? This issue introduces readers to the history of their magical love story, as we welcome special co-writer Mariko Tamaki to the Archie universe!
“Archie” #706 shows how versatile of a character Archie Andrews can be. Andrews comes off as effortlessly endearing. The issue flashes back to cover the Summer of Riverdale High and the budding romance between Archie and Sabrina. Nick Spencer and Mariko Tamaki cover how Archie actually met and fell in love with Sabrina. While the title covers a relatively small amount of ground, Spencer and Tamaki setup an endearing new context and aspect of Archie’s life.
When readers pick up on Archie’s life from the summertime, Andrews has already established a love interest and direction. It is fascinating to see how Tamaki and Spencer flashback to the past to show their origin that has been hidden from readers for five months. Getting this story almost feels like a payoff after a huge lead-up in a Big Two superhero storyline. Spencer and Tamaki shove most of the larger threads to the side and try and keep the storyline fairly grounded despite the subversive plotting.
Jenn St-Onge lends a slightly different aesthetic to the pencils than readers are used to. St-Onge draws characters who are extremely fluid and expressive. An “Archie” title can struggle to keep the attention of readers with some of the more down-to-earth plotting. The title needs a creator who can make the visuals of the series appealing while lending fluid artistic movement and expression. St-Onge’s pencils can be a little sparse in regards to some of the overall details in the issue. St-Onge’s art is the strongest when it features some of the more fluid, expressive faces. St-Onge draws really expressive figures but her environments can lack detail. St-Onge makes sure to show each character in the middle of an action like smiling or thinking in any given scene.
Previous writers lent a solid degree of subtext to the world of Archie and I’m glad to see that tradition carried on here. Some of the expressions St-Onge depicts to Andrews showcase a different side of his character. We see Archie hiding a cunning smile when he watches Josie and the Pussycats play a gig. In some of the work scenes, Andrews shows off a slight look of frustration that serves to humanize his character. This issue has a vague, supernatural twist introduced towards the end that Spencer and Tamaki setup for future chapters. Due to some of the build-up over the past few installments and the solid, spooky artwork, the twist looks great and adds a couple of extra dimensions to the script.
Sabrina Spellman’s inclusion in the issue will leave some readers scratching their heads. Spencer and Tamaki don’t get the chance to flesh out her emotions and show her fawning over Archie before even having a conversation with him. Spellman comes across as endearing in the issue but also a little creepy. Her intentions are good and the end of the chapter finally elaborates on why she is there in the first place. I hope Spencer and Tamaki will be able to craft their relationship in a way that doesn’t seem forced or derivative in future chapters. I would like to see the more interesting side of blending Archie and Sabrina together as a couple.Continued below
Overall, “Archie” #706 is a solid, but familiar introduction to the beginning of the Sabrina and Archie relationship. Spencer and Tamaki can feel like they are reaching to try and pair Sabrina and Archie together but the title is still loaded with an undeniable amount of charm. The script takes full advantage of the flashback setting. Even though the title is published on a monthly basis, “Archie” #706 feels like readers are catching up with an old friend and learning something interesting about their past. I also enjoy how the comics are taking cues from the television series to lean into an entirely different direction for the franchise. Even though I wish the script had a little more plot, “Archie” #706 covers an interesting time for Andrews.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – “Archie” #706 recaps the most recent Riverdale Summer with an emphasis on a secret romance.