After being hinted at for the past two issues, Veronica Lodge finally attends her first day of school at Riverdale High in Archie #3. Artist Fiona Staples makes her the most fashion forward member of the comic’s ensemble cast while writer Mark Waid gives her quite the complicated personality as she can go from a sly joker to a spoiled rich girl or a detached observer at the drop of a hat. Her arrival heightens the melodrama of the series to a boiling point as Archie starts following her around like a puppy because he is smitten with her and also because he accidentally destroyed her father’s mansion in Archie #2. However, the breakout character of the series continues to be Jughead.
Jughead plays a major part in the issue’s plot, and he continues to relish the role of “only sane man” in the Archie series. Waid and Staples make him preternaturally ready with dry quips and advice about Archie’s actions. However, he can’t be cool all the time, and Staples gives him a little ” The Lonely Man” montage as he walks around school with a dejected expression on his face as Veronica regales her teacher and other students with humorous stories about living it up with various one-percenters. He obviously doesn’t ship Veronica and Archie together and gets to put his feelings on full blast when he tells Veronica, “His name is Archie” with the original logo in the letters from Jack Morelli and a bright pink background from colorist Andre Szymanowicz. From this moment on, he starts to be active in the story’s events instead of just being the comic relief or dispenser of advice. (Who knows what he’ll be like in his new solo series coming out next week from Sex Criminals‘ Chip Zdarsky and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl‘s Erica Henderson?)
Fiona Staples makes Veronica incredibly gorgeous and gives her a perfectly matched jacket and dress combo with a streak of blue in her hair to make her stand out from the other characters in Archie #3. Szymanowicz makes her color scheme contrasts with Betty’s blond hair and yellow outfit to set up a little black and yellow showdown for the future. (Not in the Pittsburgh Steelers sense obviously.) In Archie, Staples has created a hybrid of her detailed art style and cartooning with characters that look like actual human being making wild gestures, like when Jughead yanks Archie by his backpack strap so he doesn’t get run over by Veronica’s limo. The cartoonish moments work well with Waid’s heightened script that shows high school drama in broad strokes like when Veronica discovers the cafeteria, and her treatment of Archie in general.
Even if Mark Waid’s take on Veronica Lodge as a classier, high school version of a Kardashian is a little on the nose, Archie #3 makes the friendship between Archie and Jughead and the strained relationship between Archie and Betty authentic and naturalistic. Although he is spending most of his time with Veronica in this issue, Archie and Jughead still have time for banter heavy conversations about what’s going on in there lives. A simple scene of Jughead and Betty texting in class about the Archie situation shows that they have a friendship as well even if Betty is tired of hearing about him. This bond strengthens as Veronica’s actions get even more over the top. However, the fact that Veronica is a(n attractive and wealthy) fish out of water at public school makes her a sympathetic figure and adds some levity to the melodrama.
Archie #3 introduces Veronica to the cast of characters in a visual appealing and charismatic way as Mark Waid’s teen soap opera plot gets a touch crazier and gains some new pet names, and Fiona Staples scores some laughs with her art of Archie getting strung along by Veronica.