When Archie Comics updated Archie a couple of years ago, it was a bold move and a good one. It wasn’t exactly that the formula for America’s Favorite Teenager was broken; it’s that they had to bring in new YA readers with stories that were more relevant to teens today.
But the truth is that Archie Andrews and his friends had become like Disney Channel teens. Not really appealing to actual teenagers, but setting the tone for younger readers as to what good wholesome teenage life could be like. Moral, perhaps, and occasionally innocent, but don’t confuse that with being insipid. Archie was fun, and any book featuring him or his pals was something a parent knew they could give to their kids without concern.
So it was time to bring that version back, though it has been existing in digest form all along. With Your Pal Archie, Archie Comics enlists long-time Archie artist Dan Parent to team with writer Ty Templeton to give us an Archie who’s gone back to Riverdale without going back to Riverdale. Parent has done a little updating of the style, but for the most part, it really is your pal Archie, with Jughead sporting a little facial hair but the same amiable disinterest in anything but burgers.
The first issue offers two stories — one stand-alone and one that will continue to the next. The stand-alone focuses on Archie trying to teach Jughead to drive. Even though they look pretty up to date, it feels like a classic Archie story, and suddenly I was on vacation in the backseat of my parents’ station wagon, with a stack of comics from Stuckey’s.
The second story gets to the other main dilemma in Archie’s life — his romantic entanglements between Betty and Veronica, though here mostly Veronica. Without bringing in Hiram Lodge, it dances around class differences, and Archie’s financial woes (always a staple), and yet Templeton keeps it so… simple.
Your Pal Archie is fun, overdue, and a great way to introduce your kids to the character. It does feel like getting an old pal back.