Archie’s 700th Issue Moves the Riverdale Gang in New Directions

Posted July 9, 2018 3:15 p.m. EDT

Archie Andrews, the seemingly eternal redhead from Riverdale, and his friends will be getting new creative teams later this year that will take some cues from the CW’s “Riverdale” television series and explore new terrain for the characters.

First up is the comic book Archie No. 700, slated for November, from a new team: writer Nick Spencer and artist Marguerite Sauvage.

“Archie Comics has a long, proud history,” Spencer said. “I don’t want to blow things up or do anything that would upset the long-term audience. It’s more like finding some conflicts that have some stakes, upping the drama level a little bit.” He added that he would play into the soap opera aspect of the characters and “depict that in a way that the ‘Riverdale’ audience can appreciate and enjoy.”

But fans of the comic need not worry about the book straying too far, like perhaps mirroring some of the more out-there relationships from the TV show (whether that be a student-teacher dalliance or the creepy vibe of the too-close Blossom siblings).

“There is no mature reader’s label on this book,” Spencer said. “I have a pretty decent sense of what I can get away with.”

It takes a little bit of comic book math to get to No. 700. The first Archie series ended with No. 666, published in June 2015. The next month, the gang got a makeover by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, which began with a new No. 1. That series will end this month, with No. 32. No. 699, a catch-up issue, will be released in October — and will be sold for $1.

Publishers often promote “historical numbering” as something done to please fans, but Jon Goldwater, publisher and co-chief executive of Archie Comic Publications, was refreshingly candid. “It’s a way to bring attention to the book again and have a good time,” he said.

Archie’s friends will have even more new adventures: Issue No. 1 of a new Betty & Veronica series is on tap for December. Jamie L. Rotante — who has some familiarity with the characters thanks to her work on Betty & Veronica: Vixens, in which the duo began a biker gang — will be writing. (An artist is yet to be named, though Sauvage has drawn the cover for its debut.)

“These characters were icons to me growing up and I want to make sure that continues for many, many generations of readers to come,” Rotante wrote in an email.

The series will be exploring a new chapter for the young women: senior year of high school, which will include a lot of the stress of college applications, internships and final exams. “We stack a lot onto the backs of teens and often dismiss their concerns as juvenile,” Rotante wrote. “I think now, more than ever, it’s apparent that teens matter and that their voices should be heard.”

Goldwater thinks that the varied interpretations of the world of Archie work for one reason. “If you keep the DNA of the characters intact, you can take them anywhere: TV, publishing, whatever the medium,” he said.

And, he added, everything is “one big circle.” Archie published a horror series, Afterlife With Archie, which helped pave the way for the “Riverdale” show, which is now influencing the regular Archie comic. Other iterations of the characters are under development for network broadcast or streaming: a horror-tinged animated series starring Josie (of the Pussycats); an animated series with a humorous vibe featuring Archie and his pals; and a live-action show centered around a private detective named Sam Hill.

There is no escaping the Archie gang.