The town of Riverdale has been rocked by scandal and mystery. Everyone is talking about the disappearance of Ricky Mantle from the Riverdale Gazette. His office was torn to shreds and there’s blood splattered all over the place. Somehow, that’s not the juiciest bit of news coming out of this place. That is the secret relationship between Archie Andrews and Sabrina Spellman. I cannot wait to see what happens when that gets out.
Let’s start with the Mantle mystery though. There are definite shades of the Riverdale TV show in here, especially since this issue is narrated by Jughead. Letterer Jack Morelli adds to this tone with grey caption boxes for Jughead’s internal dialogue. It matches up with the characters outfit and the overall not-quite-gritty feel to this story.
Archie doesn’t quite capture that noir vibe of Riverdale, but it has a similar tone. It’s softer than the show and that’s totally fine because the comics exist as their own separate thing and we don’t need a carbon copy. Plus, we have a Riverdale comic book already, so there’s no need to ape it in the flagship title.
Anyway, this disappearance brings in all the key players as Jughead is a suspect, if only because he was the one that found the office in disarray. Betty and Veronica show up to defend their friend and Archie is notably absent. Although we’re dealing with some serious stuff here, the humor is still a constant part of the story. Writer Nick Spencer keeps everything moving at a brisk pace without losing that signature charm we know and love from over 700 issues of this comic.
Much of this tone comes through in Marguerite Sauvage’s artwork. Everyone in this town is absolutely gorgeous. Riverdale is a perfect place to live…until it’s not. You see this journey through emotion on their faces as they go through anger, despair, and a glimmer of happiness (although not about Ricky’s disappearance).
Where Sauvage really excels is when the conversation turns to Archie’s lovelife. He’s keeping his relationship with Sabrina a secret, which is causing Betty and Veronica to ask all kinds of questions. Sauvage’s artwork comes alive when the subject turns to romance. There are all these subtle details, like a quick glance across the cafeteria or Archie’s uncomfortable stirring as he’s grilled about his summer vacation. There’s a sparkle in the air and it’s not just because of Sabrina’s magic (although we haven’t seen that used just yet.)
Archie #700 served as a re-introduction to characters we’ve known and loved for years. This one moved the story along by leaps and bounds, pulling us further into their lives which I didn’t know was possible. Archie has been a solid comic for a few years and this arc is maintaining that high level of quality while taking it to new heights.