Archie’s secret romance is the talk of the town…well, that and the disappearance of Reggie’s dad, but people have priorities, you know? Betty and Veronica conspire to find out who this mystery paramour is, pulling in the help of Cheryl Blossom. It’s saying something that in a town where a prominent figure goes missing, it’s the second most interesting story.
Archie #703 has a shift in style with Sandy Jarrell handling the artwork for the whole issue. His work is in a similar style to that of previous artist Marguerite Sauvage, but it feels a little more rough around the edges. The basic character forms are there, but they lack the depth that Sauvage had brought to the title. Also, everyone is a little too tall and skinny, making them look younger than they really are.
Where Jarrell really excels is in the opening and closing pages of the issue, following Jughead through the woods as he’s pursued by a mystery attacker. There’s a more dynamic panel layout at play here, keeping the excitement up as Jughead bobs and weaves through the trees.
Colorist Matt Herms lets the shadows do most of the work here, creating a frightening atmosphere. The few shades of color that come through reinforce the ominous tone of these scenes. There’s a nice shot where they’re running and there are these bits of shadow on each of them, like spots on a leopard. This must be the sun coming through the leaves. It’s a pretty cool effect.
This contrasts with the otherwise bright and shiny town of Riverdale. Even though the sun is shining brightly, there’s a feeling of something sinister brewing. You just know the other shoe is going to drop sooner or later. Writer Nick Spencer has created a great, mystery-filled tone for Archie, causing you to examine every last detail of every page.
Betty and Veronica’s master plan stands revealed during a big party thanks to Cheryl. Letterer Jack Morelli helps in the build up to this when Cheryl takes the stage for a few announcements. All eyes are on her as she manages to push her own agenda before turning her sights on Archie in a bombastic manner.
A monkey wrench has been thrown into the otherwise perfect and adorable budding romance between Archie and Sabrina. There have been hints at Sabrina’s magical abilities, but none of them have been seen just yet (at least not that we can tell). I’m curious to see how she handles this sudden competition. From the looks of the final pages, she’s not too happy by this sudden turn of events.