With an ominous number, the long running series “Archie” ends in a meta, but sweet, way that takes us down memory lane. Read on for our review, but be warned, there are spoilers.
Written by Tom DeFalco
Illustrated Tim Kennedy, Pat Kennedy, Fernando Ruiz and Dan Parent
On the eve of the game-changing Archie #1, an all-star cast of Riverdale’s finest creators join forces to celebrate one of the longest-running comic series ever in the much-loved Archie style! Take a look back at Archie’s wonderful life and the many lives he’s lived in a zany, heartfelt and hilarious adventure that will be a must-have for fans old and new – and a can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind collector’s item. A dazzling journey through the world of Archie with plenty of winks and nods to what’s come before, Archie #666 caps off a legendary run of comic excellence while opening the door to the next thrilling chapter-featuring six covers celebrating Archie’s vibrant history that connect to make one giant image !
Archie Andrews and the world of Riverdale are pretty much an American staple. Like superhero gods Superman and Batman, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of Archie. It’s a comic book that’s been available in digest form at supermarkets for years and for many readers, it was their first exposure to comics. Even if you’ve never read an Archie comic before, you can appreciate the longevity of the franchise.
“Archie” #666 is the final issue before the much buzzed about relaunch spearheaded by writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples. The issue is broken up into four chapters chronicling this last adventure of Archie Andrews and the rest of the gang. Archie, running, bangs into carpenters remodeling the school’s hallway. Mr. Weatherbee flips out on him and gives him detention for the 666th time (get it?). Mr. Weatherbee gives Archie one last chance by telling him that if he can’t fix the hallway by Saturday, Archie will be expelled from school. Once everyone finds out, they all reminiscence about times that Archie’s clumsiness got in the way of his good intentions. After a lot of flashbacks, every single character comes together at the school to help Archie fix the hallway and all is saved.
Despite being broken up into multiple chapters, the issue is written by the legendary Tom DeFalco. It would be easy to be cynical about this issue because it is very self referential. There’s not so subtle references to Archie’s death in “Life With Archie” and Archie’s leadership role in “Afterlife With Archie”. I say forget cynicism. These stories have never been subtle, as they are a glamorized and idealized version of living in a small town. DeFalco basically writes one of those flashback episodes that sitcoms do after a few years on air and this is probably the only comic series it works with. It’s also the best way to close things out as it pays tribute to all that’s come before. Archie is the focus but every character, even the newer ones, get a chance to do a little something. No one is left out of this last celebration of this series.
Multiple artists worked on this issue with Rich Koslowski doing the inks throughout and Glenn Whitmore on coloring duties. Koslowski’s inks are bold and strong, something you’ll find in a lot of “all ages” comics. It gives off this real friendly look and adds to the cartoony visual style of the issue. Glenn Whitmore’s colors are very well done. The colors are simple but vibrant and fun. The world of Riverdale pops right off the page but it’s also muted a little bit adding a certain “old school” sensibility to the issue.
“Archie” #666 features the kind of style you’ve come to expect from this series. With that said, there are differences in how each artist pencils. The first chapter is by Dan Parent and he does the most cartoony version of the characters. The expressions are really over the top and the clumsiness of Archie is visually funny because simple motions become disasters. The biggest issue with Parent’s art is that when the characters are in profile, their noses are extremely long. It’s a bit too silly, even for “Archie”. The second chapter features pencils by Fernando Ruiz (“Archie vs. Predator”) features slightly less over the top facial expressions than Parent’s work and really great designs of Betty and Veronica. The middle here is where they are featured the most and Ruiz does a really nice job distinguishing them from each other through their wardrobe. Pop’s Diner looks great in the background because there are nice little details like the posters being thought out and the background customers not looking like space filling blobs. I do wish though that there were more distinguishing facial features because Reggie and Moose looked like the same guy with different hair colors.Continued below
The third chapter is by Tim Kennedy and he did the most with the flashbacks compared to the other artists featured. He doesn’t settle for a conventional panel layout as the flashbacks, like memories, kind of blend into one another. It makes for a really nice effect and what he does is tell these little ministories where the characters don’t even have to explain what’s happening. The final chapter is drawn by Pat Kennedy and it feels much more retro than the other chapters. There’s slightly less detailing in the backgrounds but the character designs are the strongest here. This is the very last time (presumably) we’ll see this kind of art in the main series so it’s important to go out on a high note. Everyone gathers together here and Kennedy does a great job with detailing to make everyone stand out to longtime readers without labeling everyone. Archie’s tears when he sees everyone together feel very genuine and because this issue is so meta, it becomes a bit emotional for the reader as well.
As “Archie” next month moves on into a new direction it says goodbye to the past in proper fashion. “Archie” #666 is a bittersweet ending that does it’s best to touch base with everything it can in just one regular sized issue. This would have been even better if it were extended and featured even more creators. As nice as it and as nice as the flashbacks are, it doesn’t do quite enough. It’s not cynicism but more a longing for something more. This should have been bigger, more special and more important. Now we turn the page and see what the company offers next and if it has the longevity this series had.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Sweet and heartfelt but doesn’t really feel like a big enough send off.