On the CW’s Riverdale, Archie Andrews is, unlike his traditional comic book counterpart, buff as hell—and topless on occasion, because duh, he’s the male lead of a show on the CW. They’re all like that. What’s amazing is, the Riverdale comic actually spent the time to explain how Archie transformed from skinny comics character to CW-worthy star.
Today’s prequel issue—which follows the events of the summer leading to Jason Blossom’s death in four separate stories from the perspectives of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead—was originally intended to simply be a one-shot prelude to the events of Riverdale, but will now spinoff into its own ongoing comic series. That’s right, it’s a comic book based upon a show based upon a comic book. Weird!
Each one is pretty good at setting up the life of each of these characters before Riverdale opens—we see Veronica lose everything about her old life after her father is taken to trial for embezzlement charges, we see Betty away from Riverdale and becoming her own self, and we learn why Jughead and Archie had drifted away from each other (it’s because Archie had the hots for Ms. Grundy, which is still strange to us). But most important of all is the only factoid you need to know for a CW show’s prequel: how the protagonist got buff.
The story is actually pretty simple: Archie took a summer job at his father’s construction company to avoid crippling loneliness without Betty or Jughead around to keep him company. Few months of hard physical labor later, and Archie goes from string bean to shirtless eye candy for the locals.
It’s simple, but it’s very silly—and amazing that Brian Paterson, Elliot Fernandez, Thomas Chu, and John Workman’s story even bothered to actually cover it. Riverdale is already one of our favorite shows of the season, but I can’t help that love that the time was taken to explain, within the lore, this infamous CW show trope.