In the tradition of such famous comic book series and mini-series as John Byrne’s “Superman: the Man of Steel,” Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One” and Marvel’s “Ultimate” line comes the latest comic book icon to get the “prequel” treatment: Archie! That’s right, now you, the reader can travel back in time with Archie and his friends to their very first year in high school in this five-part epic storyline we’re calling THE FRESHMAN YEAR SAGA!

a589.jpgIt all began in ARCHIE & FRIENDS #587 with a poignant prologue called “The Summer Before,” exploring how the famous friends who just graduated junior high would deal with their pending positions as high school seniors. Then, in issue #588’s “Freshman Year: Fall Semester,” Archie and his friends started the fall semester of their first high school year. Having survived a summer that saw the departure of Jughead and bickering parents, the gang arrived at high school… to find elementary school Principal Mr. Weatherbee had now become the high school Principal! A whole new crowd of friends and foes were introduced to the gang that issue, and Pop Tate’s was firmly established as their hangout numero uno.

Now comes issue #589, which brings the teenage friends to their “Freshman Year: Winter Semester.” Hoping to stay close to Veronica, Archie joins the drama club – the perfect indoor activity during the frosty winter months. But being part of such a large club is hardly the way to gain exclusive quality time with Veronica. With Betty around, you can be sure there will be plenty of love triangle friction to go around! And will Moose ever be introduced to Midge? Other surprises in store for the gang this second semester include some new faculty members as well as the departure of the expelled school bully, Jared McGerk. It’s the funniest first year of high school ever!

This special storyline is brought to you by none other than fan-favorite writer Batton Lash. No stranger to Archie Comics, the famed writer of the “Wolff & Byrd” series turned the comic industry upside down in 1994 when he penned the unlikely Archie/Marvel cross-over comic, “Archie Meets the Punisher.” Many thought it would never work, but Batton’s ingenious script won over even the toughest skeptics, and the comic wound up being not only one of Archie’s biggest-selling issues ever, but also one of the most highly-acclaimed. Batton returned the following year with another well-received story arc appearing across several Archie titles. The “House of Riverdale” was a loving tribute to the type of serio-comic, spooky mysteries so prevalent in the vintage “Life with Archie” series. Handling the art chores is “Scrapyard Detectives” creator and popular Archie artist/writer Bill Galvan. This is one “year” you can’t afford to miss!

ARCHIE #589, ships 9/17. 32-page, full color comic, $2.25 US. SCRIPT: Batton Lash. ART: Bill Galvan.

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