As if almost operating under obsucurity, Archie Comics has stepped its game up immensly over the past several years. Coming out of that new inititative is a comic that is rapidly becoming the best comic they've ever produced. Click on the link to see why "Life With Archie: The Married Life deserves your attention.
Life with Archie: The Married Life is written by Paul Kuppenberg and Illustrated by Norm Breyfogle, Joe Rubinstein and Andrew Pepoy
Synopsis of the Book: A lot can happen in 6 years. In 6 Short Years, Archie and his Pals have not only Graduated from High School, but have graduated from College. There have also been many changes from their Idyllic High School Days, but none more significant then when Archie finally ended the love triangle and married the girl of his dreams. However, Marriage is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. The beginning of a journey that is simply called "Life With Archie: The Married Life"
Information you need to know: To make sure that everyone is on the same page, there are a few things that need to be quickly explained. To start, Life With Archie: The Married Life contains the continuing storyline of the 2 Universes that were created from Archie's big decision back in the 2009 StorylineEvent "Archie Marries ..." The next big thing that's unique about this title, is that the actual story content is wrapped around features which range from Videogame Reviews by Jughead to Celebrity Daydreams where the Archie Characters are drawn with the looks of today's stars. The features allow the title to carry the Magazine format, which allows getting it on newsstands where it wouldn't have otherwise. Now that we have that out of the way, time for the meat of this article.
Reasons Why It's Awesome: There are many different reasons why someone should look past the company logo (along with every preconception that comes with said logo) on the cover and add this title to their pull list. For starters, Life With Archie: The Married Life takes characters that we've known all our lives as teenagers and puts them in a scenario where each of them are now going through the journey to figure out where they fit in this world. Along with that, Riverdale itself also plays a role as the iconic town has to deal with a world that has moved Decades past the blueprint of times past, as forces conspire to bring it into the 21st century whether it likes it or not.
Through the combination of these interacting storylines, the world(s) that is/are created takes on a much harsher tone, as not everyone is looking out the for the best interests of their community and the consequences are much greater than detention. It is a world that allows us to explore these characters in ways never seen before, as growing up forces them to face their fears and inherit flaws, where they have the choice to either change for the better, or fall into the abyss of self-delusion. Another thing that should be stated is that the 2 storylines in this magazine feature some notable contrasts.
"Archie Marries Veronica" takes place in a world of Corporate Intrigue where the characters not only have to worry about shaping their own futures, but the future of Riverdale itself. Along with fighting to make sure Riverdale doesn't lose its identity, Archie and his friends are thrust into scenarios where trust is a premium and friendship isn't always guaranteed, as there are choices that have to be made that hurt the friends they've known all their lives. As all of this happening, one surprising character steps up to become the guardian of Riverdale's ideals, while another has to deal with the possibility of going to prison for a crime he didn't commit. Once you finished reading the latest installment, you'll spend all month trying to envision what happens next.
As for "Archie Marries Betty", this storyline leaves the Boardrooms of the Ivory Towers of Business, and heads towards the more personal settings of everyday life in 21st Century Riverdale. Lacking the full on Corporate Intrigue of "Archie Marries Veronica", this storyline takes a more personal look at the trials and tribulations that Archie and his pals face with growing up. In this world, their stories presented deal with a myriad of scenarios. From moving on from a broken heart (Veronica and Betty deal with being the 3rd Person out in vastly different ways beyond the surface), to having to face fact that you aren't seen as a man in the eyes of your, dealing with a more successful romantic partner, and having to deal with the drawbacks of believing your own press too much, the characters may face a world that may be more outwardly cruel, as they face forces they can't control have the power to possibly derail their lives, and the fact that hard work isn't always enough to reach your goals. Like "Archie Marries Veronica" once you put it down, the wait for the next one becomes one of the cruelest waits in comics.
No matter which storyline you prefer, Life with Archie: The Married Life provides some of the most engaging storylines in comics today. With its vastly 3-dimensional characters that are still developing into something greater, along with scenarios that keep you guessing as to where this storyline is going to go. If the end of both storylines this month is any indication, The Married Life could change the way we see Archie Comics, forever.
If you like ________, then you'll like this book: For the past couple of weeks, I've been racking my brain as to what I could compare this title to, coming up empty after each attempt. Life with Archie is a unique beast that combines the nuanced coming of age life drama of Maison Ikkoku, the drama of romance in your 20's/30's of Nana, and the three dimensional characterization that's mostly seen in Fables and The New York Four/Five with Archie characters as the focus of the tales. If anyone of those titles and traits appeal to you, then it would be in your best interest to give this book a shot, as it'll surprise you with how refreshing layered of a read it can really be.
Don't take my word for it: The praise for this series runs comes from a wide range of people and sites. For starters, Comics Alliance calls this "The Most Fascinating Archie Comic Ever Printed." In addition First Comics News does an even better job than this writer does in examining the positives of this series and Topless Robot just Revels in the absolute dramatic insanity that this series brings to the table (This Link is Extremely Spoiler Intensive). If those links along with my own praises can't get you reading this series, then I don't know how else to sell this to you.
Best Pick Up Point: Life With Archie is knee deep into its second storyline, so picking up an issue off the rack might prove to be an exercise in frustration. Last December, 2 trades collecting the first Arc were solicited for February 2011, but from all accounts the run was limited. However, there's still hope, as the back issues, which are widely available through this site. The Trade will probably get a 2nd print run, but if you want to start reading right away, then either the link or a back-issue hunt in your LCS will be your best bets.
In Conclusion: When Archie #600 dropped in August of 2009 (effectively beginning this storyline) there was no way that I expected the story to continue beyond that 6 Issue Event. When Life With Archie: The Married Life #1 dropped in August of 2010, I had no idea that I would be witness to something as special as I've seen the past year. Amidst the Big Events, Universe Revamps and "Shocking Moments" that seemingly make up an average week of comics, this book has become one of my favorites by simply providing an engaging story where it and its characters aren't beholden onto some creatively crippling Status-Quo. If you're even looking to try something different, then this book is worth the 4 Dollars, despite the tweeny exterior the book is dressed in.
Written or Contributed by: Linwood Earl Knight