Modern Archie comics have a reputation for being a deep, introspective look at the modern lives of teens. Ever since the brand’s facelift in 2015, Archie has been synonymous in the comics community with solid storytelling, masterful cartooning, and overall enjoyment. But with a million spin-offs and a Wikipedia page boasting seven genres, they can’t all be winners. Take, for example, Archie and Sabrina #1.
Last Time On Riverdale…
Archie and Sabrina #1 takes on the difficult task of starting a miniseries in the middle of a series run. Writer Nick Spencer is by no means bad at what he does, but the task set before him is hard to complete gracefully in any context. I will say that the team did what they could with what they were given. However, there is clearly not enough story in this prologue to stretch it out to a full-length floppy. Spencer clearly revels in the melodrama associated with the franchise, with an unseen narrator waxing poetic throughout the issue.
In this issue, Cheryl is busy putting on a Bachelor-style competition for Archie’s affections. Jughead is helping Reggie in his quest to find out the truth about his missing father. Sabrina drones ominously about how “there’s something coming.” However, his best storytelling moments shine through in the mundanities of life in Riverdale.
The best moments in Archie and Sabrina #1 are those shared between eternal gal pals Betty and Veronica. For maybe the hundredth time, they swear not to let Archie get in the way of their friendship. The scene is a bit sloppy, as it comes on the heels of Cheryl’s whole Bachelor in Riverdale thing, but I digress. After they part ways, we see a solid representation of the rift between the two. Veronica wants to bulldoze a forest that Betty is determined to save. This is a solid plot line, represented expertly with mirrored splash pages. It’s just a shame that this charming story beat is nestled in the middle of so much nonsense.
The Highs And Lows Of Archie And Sabrina #1
Sandy Jarrell is a solid cartoonist. Her characters have a certain retro charm, like a vintage illustration. Her black spotting is really lovely! However, her work with Archie and Sabrina #1 is not a good reflection of her work as a whole. Certain panels give the sense that Jarrell is more comfortable working in black and white, even though her previous work with Archie Comics has looked just fine when paired with a colorist.
Her collaboration with Matt Herms here just falls a little short. Again, Herms is an excellent cartoonist and colorist! His work on Blossoms 666, in particular, is some of my favorite modern coloring in comics. There is just something strangely off about everyone’s work in this issue like they all took a sick day. Even letterer Jack Morelli doesn’t get the chance to experiment and play around with any fun fonts or bubbles.
This is especially disappointing coming off the heels of Kelly Thompson’s Sabrina comic, which we here at The Daily Fandom adore. For an arc with her name in the title, Archie and Sabrina #1 doesn’t feature a whole lot of teen witchcraft.
Now, obviously the comic is more than its first issue. But this intro to the whirlwind romance of Archie Comics’ two biggest stars is less than stellar. The issue of this issue (ha) comes down to the lack of time devoted to any one subject. This first act could have been condensed into a much shorter intro and left more time in the back half to start some drama instead of hinting at it. Archie and Sabrina have plenty of time to prove themselves as the power couple they’re meant to be.
For now, all there is to do is wait.