The Secret Romance Fizzles Out In Archie #709

by James Ferguson

The exciting secret romance between Archie and Sabrina continues, but what lies next for these lovebirds? She’s a witch and he’s a clumsy high school student. Also, Betty and Veronica fight over the fate of the woods and Jughead gets closer to solving the disappearance of Reggie’s father in Archie #709.

Archie & Sabrina’s relationship is proving to be little more than a summer fling as the two head back to their lives with a new school year and new responsibilities. This is rather unfortunate as it’s a pretty interesting and intriguing setup that has a lot of potential. It feels like writers Nick Spencer and Mariko Tamaki only scratched the service on this pairing before having to throw in the towel for the coming Katy Keene. This is a bit of a spoiler, but considering it’s in the news, it’s kind of obvious where this is going.
The problem with the Archie and Sabrina romance is that they really are from two very different worlds. While they can exist in the same overall universe, Sabrina is literally a witch, complete with magic powers and a talking cat. Archie can dabble in that stuff, but at the end of the day, he’s grounded in reality. His only super power is his penchant for ridiculous accidents, which has been toned down in this run.

Archie gets a tiny peek at this world and gets scared by it. Again, this is unfortunate because the two really make each other happy, yet Archie can’t seem to get over this aspect of Sabrina’s life. This is a little surprising as he’s so accepting of everyone and everything else, but a little witchcraft is where he draws the line.
Artist Sandy Jarrell highlights the teen drama of all this. The two characters gaze into each other’s eyes with their freckles aligned. Sabrina has this stoic determination about her, where she rebels against her aunt’s wishes and wants to lead something close to a normal life. This contrasts a bit with Archie’s naive all-American look. There is so much they could do for one another and hopefully we’ll get to see that explored in a future story.

The scenes with Archie and Sabrina take place in the evening, like the sun is setting on their relationship. Colorist Matt Herms fills these pages with cool blues, giving them a cool tone. This complements the blues of the characters’ eyes. There are subtle differences between the two, with Archie’s leaning more towards innocence while Sabrina’s have an icy coldness to them in the end.
Herms distinguishes the scenes of Jughead’s investigations with yellows and browns, coinciding with the hard-boiled detective aspect of this storyline. With all the drama going on between Archie & Sabrina, this potential murder sub-plot has been pushed far to the back burner. I’m hoping to see this explored more as it was one of the major elements introduced during the relaunch some time ago.

Letterer Jack Morelli guides us through each story, from the heated discussion between Archie and Sabrina to the pulpy internal narration of Jughead. Morelli has some expert placement of certain caption boxes and word balloons to offer the most impact. This is especially true for one of the final pages for Sabrina.
We’re now two arcs into this latest version of Archie and we’ve been treading water for a bit. The relationship with Sabrina fizzled out before it could really do anything and we’re no closer to solving the mystery of Reggie’s father’s disappearance. Now it looks like we’ll be sidetracked with Katy Keene’s arrival. There are some great elements and character work here, however it feels like things are stagnated a little. We’ll see what’s waiting for us with the next arc.
Archie #709 from Archie Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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