Riverdale: The Ties That Bind

Archie Blue Ribbon. (Riverdale). May 2021. 144p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781645769583.
Gr 9 Up–This second “Archie” original graphic novel takes readers back into the world of CW’s Riverdale. As Jughead narrates from his usual perch at Pop’s, creepy stories are “never in short supply.” His voice is the connective tissue among four tales that pair characters with precarious situations. The first locks Moose with Jughead in Stonewall Prep’s library, a note with a mysterious symbol their only clue for escape. Next, Betty gets Polly from her treatment center for an “old-school sister sleepover.” A flat tire lands the sisters at a seedy hotel, where they discover they are most definitely being watched. Third, a puzzle cube sends rivals Archie and Reggie to a dangerous escape room. Lastly, a late-night meeting at the Centerville Plaza Shopping Mall leads Veronica and Cheryl into trouble with zombies. In each story, Ostow (author of the Riverdale spin-off novels) effectively translates the show’s noir aesthetic into graphic novel form by remaining faithful to characters, tone, and mood. Pitilli’s stylized art is all thick lines and long shadows, made even more atmospheric by colorist Andre Szymanowicz’s muted palette. Readers need not be totally caught up with the television series to enjoy this volume, but there are spoilers up to season four. The lack of character development or exposition assumes some prior knowledge. Though race is not explicitly mentioned in these stories, Veronica is Latinx, Reggie is Korean American, and Archie, Betty, Moose, and Jughead present as white. Moose is bisexual.
VERDICT An eerie extension of the Riverdale story line, recommended for collections where Archieverse series remain popular.

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