Whereas Archie #1 was rooted in the teen soap opera, Archie #2 goes the teen sitcom route with a lighthearted issue about Jughead’s secret origins and Archie’s ineptitude at finding any kind of employment. Writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples create a nice parallel between Archie’s inability to do something successful with his hands, and Betty’s ability to fix a car in a wink and a flash while also dealing with the realization that boys see her in a sexual way after she has broken up with Archie. Waid and Staples handle this in a not-too-creepy banner as Betty has her own Sia “Chandelier” moment in this issue’s montage to counteract her mixed emotions about breaking up with Archie and growing up.
Fiona Staples’ artwork gives vitality to a story that could be a standard issue comic book version of a teen drama with some extra weirdness from Jughead’s backstory. (He continues to be the best part of the book.) She has versatility as an artist going from rounded, cartoonish designs for baby Jughead and his friends mooching off his riches to using mainly close-ups and little or no panel boundaries to Betty awkwardly getting ready for her party. However, she bridges drama and comedy to make sure the tone’s not uneven in panels like when Betty’s ears steam up after Trevor tries the old reach around butt grab. (Disgusting.) Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn highlight each major character’s (Archie, Jughead, Betty, later Veronica) hair color to keep them distinct and unique in a sea of construction workers and random high schoolers.
Mark Waid continues to develop Archie’s personality in Archie #2 by making him a complete klutz in an utterly outrageous manner. Knocking down an entire building and burning lots of food are standard slapstick routines, but Waid gives the comic almost no fourth wall with side characters like Dilton and Moose having whole conversations about “saving Archie from himself”. And on the next page, Staples shows him running from a globe that was going on the Lodges’ mansion Temple of Doom style. Moments like these chip away at Archie’s sometimes portrayal as the icon of All American adolescent masculinity as he unsure of himself like with the guitar playing last issue and making enough money to fix his car in this one.
Fiona Staples’ energetic, physical comedy filled art (Including an event I never thought would be worthy of a double page spread.) plus Mark Waid’s three dimensional character work with Archie, Jughead, and Veronica makes Archie #2 a solid follow-up issue. Waid also does a nice job of dishing out just enough Veronica in this issue (Her new look is flawlessly gorgeous, courtesy of Staples.) to give this more episodic series a touch of serialized love. However, she is definitely in the background as Waid and Staples focus on keeping Riverdale weird and blending romance and comedy to set apart Archie from other slice of life books.