Pros: The humor and wit from the previous two volumes is back again. Cheryl Blossom and her brother are both great characters that contribute some really good storylines. The comic’s depiction of modern teenagers is well done.
Overall: If you are a fan of the Archie series so far, you will not be disappointed with this volume. Not only does it bring back everything that made the first two volumes great, but it also builds upon that. It shines the spotlight on characters while also pulling off another fantastic story. All in all, this is a series that just keeps getting better.
In Archie Vol. 3, Mark Waid continues the top notch quality storytelling that made the first two volumes so successful. This is a story with laughter, brevity, conflict, and heart. While it does bring back the comedic stylings and characters which made the first two volumes great, clear evidence of growth can also be found in this volume. Relationship drama does not dominate the plot and other, more minor, characters find some spotlight as well. All of this makes for an excellent collection and a story that will absolutely not disappoint.
Readers of the first two volumes will be happy to know that the humor in those books continues seamlessly into this one. In particular, I found Cheryl’s story to be hilarious, especially when she attempts to steal Archie from Veronica. The entire plot follows Cheryl as she pulls of increasingly ridiculous stunts in order to make herself irresistible to Archie. Then, upon finally meeting him, she breaks down into laughter because of how silly Archie is as a person. It was a well-planned and extremely funny issue that made the entire volume for me.
However, not everything is the same in this new volume, one difference is its focus on minor characters in the New Riverdale universe. Characters like Dilton Doiley, Moose Mason, and Kevin Keller get more attention than ever before. While this does lead to less time being spent on fan favorites like Betty Cooper, it is nice to see characters outside of the main cast get a little recognition.
While this small change is nice to see, the most radical, yet welcome, difference in this volume from previous ones is the shift in focus away from relationships. While the past two volumes of Archie mostly revolve around Archie’s relationship with Betty and then with Veronica, this one mostly revolves around Archie and Veronica’s separate personal problems. This will be a treat for anyone who didn’t like the relationship drama in the first two volumes, while still being a nice change of pace for those who did like it. Overall, it is a very positive aspect of the work and shows that Archie does not need to completely rely on drama and romance in order to be a fantastic series.
In addition to this tone shift, another great part of this volume is how it accurately represents the stress and demands placed on modern teenagers. Archie, despite being a cultural figure, is still just a simple high school student. Yet the pressure placed on high school students, from parents and society in general is something you never see him deal with. This volume goes out of the way to demonstrate exactly this. It shows that dealing with relationships is not the only hardship students in this world faces and thus becomes a more accurate depictions of the real world than ever before.
(spoilers end here)
Joe Eisma’s art in this volume is extremely similar to Veronica Fish’s artwork in Archie Vol. 2 so make sure to check the review of that volume right here. I almost didn’t even realize the artist had changed because of how well Eisma does in matching the established style. The only comment I would make about the art is that Fish’s character designs looked a little more detailed in how they were shaded. So, if forced to pick between the two, I would probably give the edge to Fish but this would only be a very slight edge.
This comic is the second of a newly relaunched Archie Comics world. This means that you really do not have to have read anything prior to this, besides Archie Vol. 1 (Review) and Vol. 2 (Review). Reading earlier Archie Comics will give you a little better perspective on the characters and how they interact but will not give you any additional information about their history in this new continuity. The stories started in this volume continue on in Archie Vol. 4.