Okay, so I got a blip from an old Pop Culture friend who was questioning the show Riverdale. We both grew up during the “cartoon” version of the show and she wondered what was going on. Fortunately, I work at a college with an American Studies professor who had noticed some changes to the Archie strip over the past five years and so I was a little more familiar with what to expect than she is. Here’s what I know about the franchise.
The entire Archie franchise has been a part of American culture for 75 years. While the strip has changed in appearances, the storyline hasn’t changed much until a few years ago. There is still Archie, who is in love with Betty and Veronica (and Cheryl and who knows who else). Reggie who wants Veronica and a prankster. Jughead, the food machine, who eats anything he sees. Then there are all the friends plus added friends like Kevin to keep the comic current. Standard comic stuff which has seen the characters develop and the decades echoed.
A few years ago, though, the series took off into two alternate universes. In one, Archie married Veronica and went to work for Lodge Industries but didn’t agree with Mr. Lodge’s business practices. The other universe had Archie marry Betty, become a teacher, and Mr. Lodge trying to destroy Archie for breaking his daughter’s heart. Along the way, Reggie got falsely accused of a crime and ended up in jail, Jughead and Midge own Pop Tate’s, and Dilton disappears. The story culminates in the death of Archie Andrews. Regardless of who he married, in fact the last comic which I bought hinted that he married no one, Archie died saving his friend Kevin’s life from an assassination attempt during Kevin’s senate run. Did you keep up with all that? Wish I had but I didn’t buy all the comics.
Let’s just say that the killing of Archie had people concerned about the comic book’s integrity and future. While the double digest came out with new art work, it seemed that the stories were stuck in the past. That is until last year when a new line of Archie comics began to appear drawn in a modern style, with characters like Veronica coming in late. While I haven’t read many of these, I see the stories changing in a few way I never expected. Dr Lodge is darker. Archie and his band haven’t formed. The characters and artwork have more current look and stories.
So I guess it is no surprise that Riverdale will shake things up some more. From the hints I’ve seen and been told, Riverdale will open with a murder. Jason Blossom, Cheryl’s rich brother, will die and the story will revolve around his death. The actors in this is outstanding but the real surprise for me was who they have playing Archie’s dad. Everyone knows that Mr. Andrews has a slight weight problem. There’s no way Luke Perry can carry that off.
Riverdale will premiere in January on the CW channel. The murder mystery is intriguing enough to get me to turn in. Let’s see how they redraw the comics again!