“It was a dark and stormy night, the kind that reeked of cliché and begged for a fireside ghost story.”  Thus begins the graphic novel rendition of the revamped and darker take on the classic Archie comics in Riverdale: The Ties that Band. Written by Micol Ostow and illustrated by Thomas Pitilli, this original story situates itself in season 4 of the popular television series.

An interconnected plotted story featuring the main Riverdale characters begins with Jughead thrust into a noir-like scenario. One long weekend, while cramming for a writing deadline at Stonewall Prep, he drags Moose with him to the library on a rainy night only to get locked in. As the rainstorm rages on into the night, they discover a mysterious note with a cryptic image of three overlapping infinity symbols accompanied by a name: Ivanovniki.

Elsewhere, other key characters in Riverdale find themselves trapped in similar situations of confinement: In a game of cat and mouse, Betty and her sister Polly are stalked by a madman in a motel; Archie and Reggie find themselves led to a high-stakes Escape Room puzzle game and they struggle to find a way out; Veronica and Cheryl are hounded by zombies in an empty shopping mall. What mastermind has set up these deadly traps?  What mystery lies behind the cryptic symbol in all of these scenarios?

This intriguing spinoff of the hit television series Riverdale conjures up a roller coaster of baffling thrills that perplex the Archie gang. Ostow’s writing combined with Pitilli’s artwork deliver a suspense-filled mystery played against a taut timeline that unfolds with rapid pacing, unpacking a critical sequence of events simultaneously. Slick character designs against the dark, gothic backgrounds generate a sinister style, coloring the ambience with a shadowy, eerie mood comparable to the hit tv series. Each story ends on a mysterious note, leaving more questions open than answered, like an itch that wants to be scratched. Here’s hoping a sequel is in the works.

A gripping storyline set in the Riverdale universe, this graphic novel appears to set the stage for a larger episodic mystery waiting to be unraveled. This title will add a thrilling mix to young adult library collections, particularly for fans clamoring for more stories from the CW’s Riverdale series.

Riverdale: The Ties that Bind
By Micol Ostow
Art by  Thomas Pitilli
Archie, 2021
ISBN: 9781645769583

Publisher Age Rating: 12-17

NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)

  • Jerry

    | He/Him Information Strategist, San Francisco Public Library

    Reviewer

    By day, Jerry Dear, APALA member and Information Strategist at the San Francisco Public Library tackles research questions in the Periodicals department. He also teaches in the Library Information Technology department at City College of San Francisco. By night, he serves the Asian American community and ventures into the vibrant literary arts and graphic novel scene. In whatever time remains, he indulges in comics, anime, manga, and Asian American literature and film.

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