Riverdale #1 Review: Television Prequel One-Shot Provides Clarity, More Heart

I haven't made it too much of a secret that I have issues with Riverdale. Still, I do want to give it a chance. Certain aspects of the show may be disappointing and offensive, but the comic could still make some of the more confusing elements clearer. After all, the solicitations mentioned the backstory, right?

The first story is called "Sweetwater" and it focuses on Archie's construction job. Surprisingly, it's fairly funny and optimistic, countering the show's darkness. I really appreciated the scenes with Archie and his dad talking about the past. It helped to flesh them out. Unfortunately, it still has the abusive and disturbing student-teacher relationship with Miss Grundy, a plot point that I contend shouldn't be used anymore. Finally, some small panels of art seemed slightly off, but it could have been worse.
I'm sorry, but Archie does not look sixteen years old in the panel.
"Summer Nights" focuses on Betty's character development over the summer. Aside from her mother, it's not bad. The brief scenes with Polly provide a decent set-up for the mystery in the show and I really appreciate the feminism in the story. I'm not sure if this was a coincidence or not, but Betty was shown to be interning at Hello Giggles, a real-life online community. Was that intentional? Finally, I liked that they kept her diary in the Riverdale universe.

Fittingly, the following tale, "Fall From Grace" recounts the events that led up to Veronica coming to Riverdale. I think it might be my favorite. The art is great, with spectacular colors for the opulence of Veronica's house and dark lighting when her father is arrested. Really, you don't need to change too much of Veronica's "origin" to fit the show, and the comic shows it. She's just a formerly-rich teen, out of her depth in a small town.

Excuse me, the proper term is "Arby's", and only Jon Stewart gets to say that.
Finally, "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" recounts Jughead's pre-fourth of July exploits. It acts as a counterpoint to Archie's story, showing what Jughead was doing during his time with Miss Grundy. Once again, I liked it. It's fascinating to see this version of Jughead, although it is kind of odd that we see references to him constantly eating food, but it's not shown. I understand downplaying it for the show, but wouldn't it be easy to just draw a stack of burgers or even a load of empty plates at his table?

All in all, the comic was better than I expected. It definitely makes me want to read the eventual ongoing series. It does have moments of levity along with the teen drama and it just has a better tone than the show. I hope it continues to be satisfactory.

Riverdale #1 is written by Brian E. Paterson, Britta Lundin, James DeWille, and Will Ewing. The artists are Elliot Fernandez, Jim Towe, Thomas Pitilli, and Alitha Martinez. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.