Hell Week Comes to Riverdale with First Issue of TV-Based Comic

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Here's the problem I have with comic books that are based on an ongoing television show: you can pretty much rest assured that nothing dramatic is going to happen, because that would shake up the television series -- and no television series is going to let their fans get confused because of an event that happened extra-canonically in a funny book. Which tends to suck all the suspense out of things.

RIVERDALE takes a slightly different approach, telling not just stories that happen in the same universe as the television show, but which happen in-between episodes, acknowledging directly things scenes that we've watched and then expanding on them. Think of it as "the stuff that happened during the commercial breaks."

RIVERDALE #1 presents a pair of standalone stories. (The last time I think I saw that happen in a non-humor comic book, Nixon was still President.) The first comes from writer Will Ewing and artist Joe Eisma. "Bloodsport" picks up right after Archie has been handed Jason Blossom's football jersey -- the tragic #9. What happens afterward is the rather sadistic initiation ritual all the new varsity players -- in this case, Archie, Reggie, and Moose -- have to endure from the rest of the team, led by team captain (and coach's son) Chuck Clayton. It's mostly humiliation and pranks -- streaking, light vandalism of the rival's field -- but the final test is one that is outright dangerous: swimming over and back across the Sweetwater River. It's a situtation where Archie demonstrates the kind of man he's going to become, but also delivers some haunting omens tying Archie's life to Jason Blossom's fate.

The second story, perhaps too aptly titled "Bring it On" by Michael Grassi and Joe Eisma, is the same-week initiation of Betty Cooper. The Riverdale Vixens have never had an initiation before, but team captain Cheryl Blossom is still smarting from the position Veronica Lodge put her in that forced her to accept Betty as a cheerleader. So Cheryl puts Betty through three impossible tasks in order to earn her uniform. With Veronica on her side, however, how could Betty lose? Well, perhaps by being arrested by Sheriff Keller? It's a good story that gets into the characters of both Betty and Cheryl (although I still have problems digesting the regime change mentioned in the story of Betty's sister Polly having been cheerleading captain prior to Cheryl, as Polly just doesn't seem to have exhibited that kind of aggression).

The stories are both told in first-person form, and with Eisma pulling the pencilling chores on both they tales retain a consistent feel to them. If you're a fan of the television show, you'll want to pick this up to get the complete feel for the characters you love as well as the ones you love to hate.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0