At long last, the Spring Dance is here. Riverdale High is about to become a powder keg with so many emotions and personalities crammed under one roof. Accident-prone Archie Andrews may be the unpredictable fuse, but Reggie Mantle is about to dump a whole lot of gasoline on the thing (metaphorically speaking, of course).
This dance has been building for what feels like forever, like an ominous event looming in the distance. Although it technically starts here in Archie #30, that really just means everyone walked through the door. Speaking of, I’m surprised to see Betty Cooper walking without crutches already. She was in a car accident not that long ago that put her in a wheelchair. Doctors had doubts she would ever walk again and here she is. Yes, it’s a bit of a medical miracle, but it also speaks to Betty’s determination and perseverance.
The budding romance between Moose and Midge steals this entire issue. It’s such a sweet, innocent relationship. I had just figured they were already a couple, but I guess that was never made official in the reboot of the series. Here, Moose is out with a few others before the dance and his date treats him like garbage before storming out. It just so happens that Midge is the waitress at the restaurant and Moose admits he really wanted to go to the dance with her but was too afraid to ask.
The interaction between the two is priceless. Writers Mark Waid and Ian Flynn got me wrapped up in this to the point where I’m screaming at the comic because I’m so excited for both characters. Artist Audrey Mok perfectly illustrates the lovable naivete of Moose. He’s a big, strong guy, but not so great at talking. You can see him struggle to figure out what to say next, fearing that he will sound stupid or somehow scare Midge away. Midge realizes early on what’s going on and works to coax the information out of him in the sweetest way possible.
Since Archie is a roller coaster of emotion, this issue bounces from the adorable relationship of Moose and Midge to the vile villain, Reggie Mantle. I swear, the comic itself feels slimy when he’s on the page. It’s like he has this glistening quality to him, like a frog. While he is a total jerk, seeing how his father treats him does give you some frame of reference for why he acts the way he does. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the two men come to blows.
Fortunately, Archie is around to provide the moments of levity with his clumsy nature. I am continually amazed at how Mok is able to capture such awesome sight gags. Sometimes they’re subtle, like in the beginning when Archie tries to brush his teeth with a comb. They also build over time, leaving you to wonder how this guy is able to make one ridiculous situation even crazier between panels.
As the dance begins, Archie is frantic with his hair getting increasingly messed up as he realizes his bandmates have all suffered strange accidents. This progresses over time to the point where he looks like he’s about to snap. Jughead is the opposite, showing nothing but calm composition as he instantly provides a solution to his best friend’s problems. He has shown time and time again that he is just chock full of wisdom. Everyone should hope to have a friend like Jughead Jones.
Tensions were already high leading up to the dance. Archie #30 moves all the characters into place for what could be an explosive night. One face that was missing from the crowd so far is Dilton, who had recently proclaimed his love for Betty. I have to wonder if he’ll make an appearance, too. Archie is quintessential teenage drama, sprinkled with just the right amount of humor.