May 10, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 805: Riverdale One-Shot, FCBD edition, may 2017

I think every Free Comic Book Day for the last few years, I've lamented the days when I used to be able to come home with a stack of 20 comics that were all pretty fantastic, and spend a week or so pouring through them for the inevitable treasures. These days, FCBD is little more than another way for comic shops to make money, and not from side-purchases when one goes to get the free stuff.

Anyway, today's comic is really pretty good. I think Riverdale surprised everyone by being not only very, very cheesy, but also very, very compelling. I've been trying to figure out how much of that is based on prior knowledge of the characters and the shock value of seeing them put through this kind of story, but the fact that people who have little or no exposure to the long history of Archie comics also love this show really just means that it's doing something right. With the new Twin Peaks mere days away, and shows like Sense8 telling strange stories that we need to see, there's a new propensity in television for the strange, and Riverdale is giving us our teen-angst dose of that strangeness.

Some nice background bits in today's comic, though nothing that we actually haven't been made aware of from the show. With one possible exception: Hiram Lodge's desire to not have Veronica witness his downfall. It's pretty clear (SPOILER ALERT) that we're going to see Hiram soon in the series, if not in the final episode of the first season then at some point in the second. All we've heard of him in the TV series so far paints a very grim picture. But there's one panel in this issue in which he demonstrates some shame over his predicament, shame associated with his daughter maintaining a particular image of him. That's a very humanizing quality for a character that could have come in and been a stereotypical mustache-twirling villain. And that, I think, is what Riverdale has managed to do which distinguishes it from a lot of the other angst-y shows with which is shares an ostensible genre. It takes the stereotype and adds to it a dash of difference, just enough that we are left guessing, rather than knowing full well what a character is likely to do in a given situation. Further, given that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa helmed this issue and helms the show, that little aspect of Hiram is very likely to carry over.

Though, honestly, I'd put up with a less well-rendered show if Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa woud just grace us with another issue of Afterlife and Chilling Adventures. Those comics are fucking mad!

To be continued.

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