No more love triangle. No more cartoony art style with the giant eyes. No more sharing milkshakes. The main Archie comic was rebooted today, and the first issue is damn good.

For decades, Archie Andrews has been Americaā€™s Favorite Teenager, a likable redhead who lived in a town still tethered to the warm, fuzzy nostalgia of mid-century Americana. Sure, cell phones and other signs of timeā€™s passage appeared in Riverdale, but the comics set there mostly revolved around light, easily resolvable dramas. Despite some surprising experimentation of late, this comics brand has been understood as safe and relatively harmless.

Even with the trademark Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, heartache was never a real threat. But thatā€™s all changed, thanks to two of the hottest talents in comics.

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Mark Waid and Fiona Staplesā€”the writer of a phenomenal stretch of Daredevil and the artist for the hit series Sagaā€”are the core of the creative team for Archie #1, rounded out by colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn, and letterer Jack Morelli. The comicā€™s story begins right after an off-panel break-up between Archie and Betty Cooper, whoā€™ve been ā€œa couple since kindergarten,ā€ in his words. An undisclosed ā€œLipstick Incidentā€ split them apart, and the issueā€™s plot finds both of them trying to weather the scrutiny while their high-school friends scheme to get them back together. I never thought reading an Archie comic would make me reflect on what itā€™s like to be lonely in a room of full of people. But this one did.

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Archie feels realer than in his previous iteration. There is heart here that wasnā€™t in the old comics. Staplesā€™ expressive artwork adds to this heaviness. She captures the elevated energy of teenage emotions without making things feel cartoonish. Just look at those poor kidsā€™ faces on the second page of the spread below.

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Waid sets up two clever elements in this reboot debut. By shrouding an air of mystery around the Lipstick Incident, he give readers a reason to show up next month. And he invokes readersā€™ collective familiarity with the Archie mythos to pique curiosity. Archie/Betty/Veronica isnā€™t a thing in this particular comic but it has been before. Yet, Veronicaā€™s not even in this issue; sheā€™s only mentioned as a rich girl moving to town. Itā€™s not a given that same triangle will form here. Part of the hook is in seeing what will change. This is the kind of comics storytelling trick that super-hero publishers have used for decades. People would know that, say, Clark pined for Lois while she pined for Superman, but reboot after reboot would juggle those dynamics.

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The characterization of Jughead is another of the issueā€™s high points, too. Archieā€™s best friend isnā€™t just a goofy glutton. Heā€™s more thoughtful and layered than the amiable, walking punchline from older Archie tales.

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I wonder how jarring this new first issue might be for diehard Archie lovers. Compared to DC and Marvel, Archie has been a slumbering but sizable player. If this were a Superman or Batman comic, then hardcore fans might get upset over the changes being made to such a long-running character. The character of Archie doesnā€™t feel like the center of the universe anymore. Heā€™s just another young adult in a comic that tilts towards naturalistic drama than wacky comedy. There are still laughs but theyā€™re expertly balanced against gasps of shock and sighs of regret. Archie #1 feels like a great start to a new vision, a comic for today that doesnā€™t gloss over the fact that being a teenager can be both fun and exhausting.

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Contact the author at evan@kotaku.com.