Riverdale #1 — Third Time’s the Charm?

Riverdale one-shot cover by Alitha Martinez

At the time of this writing, we’re five episodes into the first season (13 episodes) of Riverdale, the creepy, dark take on the small town the Archie Comics characters live in.

You’d expect a comic publisher to put out something to sell to customers interested by this kind of mass media exposure (although that hasn’t always worked out as planned), and Archie is working that angle on several fronts.

There’s been a Road to Riverdale collection, reprinting the first issues of their recent series relaunches for Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Josie and the Pussycats, and Reggie & Me. Those stories will also be reprinted in a digest, due out in early April, in case you want the same material at a different size. But what about comics that directly reference the TV series?

There’s a one-shot (48 pages for $4.99) coming out next week that promises “four short stories focusing on the major players and events in the Riverdale series” “from the summer before” what we’re seeing on-screen. It was originally supposed to be out before the show started, but getting it in the middle isn’t a bad thing. It’s written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the series writers, so it promises to fit in well with ongoing stories, and illustrated by Alitha Martinez. There are ten alternative covers (plus a blank sketch variant), following a strategy to attract comic shop interest Archie’s been depending on lately.

I suspect two of the four stories will be included in the Free Comic Book Day giveaway as well.

What got me thinking about this topic in the first place, though, was noticing that Archie Comics keeps trying to offer a Riverdale ongoing series and then cancelling it. It was solicited in December, then cancelled in January; solicited in January, cancelled in February; and resolicited again in February. This time, though, it’s not been cancelled, so it’s due out April 5 with six variant covers.

One could speculate why a TV show tie-in is so difficult to commit to a schedule on. If they’re continuing to use show writers, those writers have more pressing commitments, and some may not be familiar with the comic format, which requires more editing. There may be events discussed that can’t be shown until a certain point in the show, or depending on how much approval is needed from the producers, that process may not be as smooth and quick as hoped.

Regardless, Archie is going to continue to work with Warner Bros. Television, the producers of Riverdale. They’ve signed a development deal to bring more Archie properties into television, which could include their superheroes or fashion model Katy Keene. That’s in spite of Riverdale having some ratings struggles.

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