Archie Comics: Big Ethel Energy # 1-3: Back in Modern Riverdale
While Big Ethel Energy certainly has the usual charm and appeal required for a modern tale set in Riverdale, it goes beyond and to more unconventional perspectives (which is evident by the choice of Ethel, the shy admirer of Jughead , as the protagonist), weighing in on emotions and experiences that put a different frame in Archie’s universe. For starters, Archie and his friends start off as bullies here, and this comic really sells that apparent dissonance with what we usually understand as Archie’s universe, as it unfolds a series of nuanced take on the different relationships. between these characters. I love where Betty is here, I love how it (for now and hopefully for the whole race) maintains Jughead’s disinterest in Ethel (and aromanticism most likely), and I loves the way Keryl Brown Ahmed and Maria Li put weight in small gestures, weeping eyes, crumpled papers to tell this story more than explicit words, while giving Ethel’s internal monologue the weight it deserves. I have my reservations with the premise (as the chapters unfold we see a “Ethel learning to empathize with her bullies / seeing her in a different light” approach that could go either way depending on nuance and approach).
Siobhan’s art is the perfect slice of life, independent vibes, a detail-driven fit for that specific choice of visual storytelling, and as you can guess carries much of the weight of that story, along with the colors. comfortable from Cazy Le. upwards, and always veering towards beautiful intimate expressions. This new format, with the strong and cohesive lettering of Kielamel Sibal, adapts perfectly to the storylines of Archie’s universe, as webcomics seem to be the perfect place for gossip, close-to-heart post-teen serials, emotional but relaxed, come true. The team behind this book really makes me wish we had a whole line of Web Archie comics as good and high quality as this one, and classic soap opera comics merging with the new format. Because, if it’s still this good, it’s worth more than the changes.