Archie's transformation into a PC mess
Archie Comics was once the most conservative publisher extant, regurgitating for many decades the same anodyne, formulaic high school antics with its eternally adolescent cast. When the publisher occasionally revived other genres -- it has a superhero line left over from the 1940s, for example -- it followed traditional paths to predictable failure.Judging from DD's sales, I'm not sure many people agree, and Waid exploited DD's series for blatant leftism and other harmful propaganda in the years past, something that curiously goes unmentioned here.
Not any more.
In 2015, Archie Comics went back to the drawing board (and the word processor). "Archie" re-launched with one of the most respected and experienced writers in the industry at its helm, the near-legendary Mark Waid. Among his many accomplishments, Waid has been BOOM's editor-in-chief, written nearly every major character and recently revitalized Marvel's "Daredevil." On "Archie" he smoothly walks a tightrope, dragging the character into the 21st century, while maintaining the elements that have made the teen redhead and his friends popular since 1940.
Furthermore, if Archie's past attempts to relaunch their superhero line didn't work, it's not because they didn't try the kind of leftism they've sunk into today. "Traditional" is hardly the fault they had in the past. At the same time, I'm sure some of their past contributors were anything but conservative, so calling them the most conservative is absurd.
And, Waid's already demonstrated why he's losing respect, or doesn't deserve any. In hindsight, he's the kind of writer who may have written 2-3 titles that were pretty good, but since the turn of the century, he's lost it. So why should we assume he'll do much better at Archie?
Next month, Riverdale's best frenemies get a makeover. "Betty & Veronica" #1 ($3.99) arrives July 20, written and drawn by Adam Hughes, a slick artist with a beautiful style, and one known especially for gorgeous women, as he has demonstrated on "Catwoman" and "Wonder Woman." Hughes will also draw the cover -- well, one of 'em, anyway, as there will be 25 of them, drawn by some of the industry's finest and/or funniest.Hughes may be a more respectable artist/writer, but I've got a feeling he'll have Archie's new PC mode stacked against him. What's noticeably problematic here is the price - nearly 4 dollars. And, another shipload of variant covers doesn't help either; an open signal they're really catering to collectors. So with all due respect to Hughes, I think he's making a mistake getting involved with the marketing approach they're taking.
But "New Riverdale," as it's sometimes called, isn't the only place you'll see new versions of the Riverdale gang.They're taking chances alright, and not good ones. What they're really saying here is that they're shunning what made them work in the past, in favor of tactics that only appeal to a dwindling adult audience in modern times, and aren't interested in regaining children/teens for audience; hence the cover price. The new Black Hood's setup as a drug addict sounds pretty tacky too. And are they insulting the older Archie editors? Most likely, yes.
Archie Comics has also launched a breathtakingly daring -- and genuinely creepy -- horror line. In "Afterlife with Archie," the remnants of the Archie gang are on the run from an undead Jughead in the zombie apocalypse. In "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," Greendale's teenage witch battles her own coven over the murder of her boyfriend, sometimes calling on the help of another pair of teenage witches who live in Riverdale (guess who).
Archie's superhero line is also getting an aggressive update. Gone are the days of cheerful, square-jawed heroes with Marvel Lite adventures. Today's "Black Hood" is a gritty crime drama, with the original Hood having died in the first issue and the replacement dealing with a substance-abuse problem. "The Shield" -- now starring a woman -- takes place in the murky world of espionage. "Hangman" is a supernatural thriller starring a man who was cruel and greedy in life, but now must do good in death to lift the Hangman curse.
One thing all of these books have in common is a fearlessness in taking chances. The horror and superhero books don't shy from death, even of main characters, and feature stories and situations that would give aneurysms to the Archie editors of the past.
A great deal of credit for this transformation must go to Publisher/CEO Jon Goldwater, who had both the vision and the courage to take the company in new directions. [...]Pure laughter. All he had was the gall to push so much political garbage into their titles, and no apologies to any of the conservatives he insulted along the way. And since this article is mostly about the TV adaptations they're planning now, guess which most recent cast member is included...
Luke Perry ("Beverly Hills 90210") plays Archie's father Fred, owner of a construction company. Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) is described as having a "pivotal role." Other cast announcements include Archie's rival Reggie Mantle (Ross Butler), genius Dilton Doiley (DanielYang) and uber-jock Moose Mason (Cody Kearsley)....and what politicized propaganda could accompany the production. If that's how they intend to go, then I don't see much promise in these new TV productions.