Archie #21 Review: Shaking Up The Status Quo

Warning: This review contains massive spoilers.

Archie #21 contains the second part of the highly-anticipated "Over The Edge" storyline. Despite having more of a comedic tone than the first installment, it might just be the most devastating chapter yet. When the last issue left off, Betty, Reggie, and Archie's respective cars experienced an accident and plunged over the side of the highway, leaving their fates in question. This issue reveals that Betty Cooper is fighting for life in the hospital.

I appreciate Mark Waid's reasoning for why he chose Betty to be the one in trouble. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, he explained that Betty has touched the lives of so many people in Riverdale in such a positive way. Seeing something happen to such a beloved figure would definitely strike a chord. I have to agree. Reggie does have occasional moments of goodness, but he's still not going to have a crowd of people coming to the hospital and rushing to his aid.

As for Archie, even though he's the main character, a lot of people in town have their issues with him, so it wouldn't make sense for him to be the one clinging to life. There's also the fact that he primarily narrates the series, so it wouldn't make sense from a writing standpoint. Although, as this issue demonstrates, you don't necessarily need a narrator for this particular story.

Jughead, the consummate professional.
Most of the issue does focus on how much Betty means to the town in a roundabout way, as the revelation that she is the injured one isn't actually revealed until the end of the issue. The bulk of it has several short stories about the residents of Riverdale going about their daily lives until they receive a phone call about the incident and immediately leave. For his part, Jughead is trying to pay off his tab by working at Pop Tate's, and celebrating with a burger after his disastrous shift. It actually shows him leaving the half-eaten burger at the table as he rushes off to the hospital. For a foodie like Jughead, that's major.

Other characters have similar moments of that magnitude. Dilton and Moose are working on a scientific experiment, but they immediately rush off to the hospital after getting the phone call. Ironically, that particular gadget was meant to help Betty. Also, we all know that Mr. Weatherbee is committed to discipline, but he stops in the middle of chewing out Raj and Sheila after getting the call. On a side, note, I'm happy to see more of Raj's movie-making exploits.

It's an effective way to keep the initial mystery going and portray the normal exploits in Riverdale. The story is set to shake up the town's status quo, and it's already demonstrated here. Finally, on a lighter note, I like that the character-focused chapters have the classic pun-based titles. Just like the eleventh issue of the title, it's a fun way to call back to the original universe.

Archie #21 is written by Mark Waid, drawn by Pete Woods, and lettered by Jack Morelli. 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.