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While I was one of the series biggest supporters at the outset, to the point of giving a rather optimistic and favorable review, I have nothing but ire for Waid’s Archie as it has unfolded. In fact, I would have to say that, as a reboot, it does nothing more than create a bland facsimile of the original product. Of course, some may scoff at such an accusation, given that this is Archie, but that’s what makes it so incredulous.
Rather than highlighting the characters through their cores, Waid is choosing to instead flanderize them to the point of unbearability. Archie Andrews spends much of the time pondering inane topics in a way that would put Malcolm from Malcolm in the MIddle to shame, wasting valuable time and not really adding anything to his character. In fact, it makes his character come off as incredibly preachy. Not in a religious way, but as the one kid in high school you steer clear from.
This is only compounded by how angsty and overly melodramatic everyone else is, from Betty to Veronica, and even Jughead. Yes, even Jughead, who gets a horrifyingly bad origin story. Something that only adds to the worsening hold that Waid is having on the focus of this series. It is not about the characters, it is about the characters loathing and just being concerned about the littlest things. While this might have originally been played humorously, not even played straight, but played with overbearing minutiae – then something has gone horribly wrong.
The worst of this comes to striking light with the letter from Waid to the reader at the end of Archie #5 – the latest issue. His complete strong headedness in what he is doing is baffling. Reggie, for example, is a character that is a jerk but not one where it should be unbelievable that anyone should give him the time of day. Going by the more recent Afterlife with Archie and this Archie reboot, you would think that he’s a nascent sociopath.
Going through Waid’s letter, it’s astounding that he thinks that Reggie works better as a toxic person. It not only limits his character and the dynamics, which has been shown within Waid’s own series, but also how others perceive and mention him. There’s this whole chunk of the latest issue where Archie outright admonishes Betty and Jughead for even hanging around Reggie. He doesn’t know what they did, but he comes off as a thickheaded git nonetheless.
It’s all so two dimensional. A charge not uncommon to Archie, but when it needs to be stated, that’s how you understand how bad it’s gotten. Zdarsky’s Jughead series is actually much better, but still falls short of the mark. While it understands that modernizing Archie doesn’t mean that you have to make it some sort of One Tree Hill rehash, he has something to learn about structure. While the main plot is entertaining, the homages to the short digest comics become intrusive.
The reboot isn’t a total failure, but Waid on the flagship book has proven just utterly unappealing. It’s not something happy go lucky, but really just a missed opportunity. Maybe the writer after Waid will be able to capitalize on the potential this all had. If the reboot survives that long. Who knows? The “New Look” era sure didn’t. Comments and thoughts would be appreciated below.