Life with Kevin Volume 1

Writer: Dan Parent
Penciller: Dan Parent
Inker: J. Bone 
Colorist: Dan Parent
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Cover Artist: Dan Parent
Publisher: Archie Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

When Archie Comics introduced Kevin Keller —their first-ever gay character— in 2010, there was no guarantee he’d stick around long enough to become a fan favorite among readers. Even if he did manage to overcome the novelty of his creation, diversity in comics back then wasn’t where it’s at now. If Kevin didn’t catch on fast, the best he could’ve hoped for was to linger in the background of other characters’ stories as the token gay BFF.

But that’s not what happened! Despite some push-back from conservative groups, Kevin managed to endear himself enough to fans to become a permanent fixture in the world of Archie Comics, even receiving his own solo title in the process. Kevin’s ubiquity in pop culture was cemented by his inclusion on The CW’s Riverdale, portrayed by actor Casey Cott.

Kevin’s most recent title ended in 2014, so it made sense for Archie to greenlight a new series featuring the character when they announced their big reboot a few years ago; Life with Kevin was the result of such plans.

While the likes of Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica were set in this new continuity, however, Life with Kevin (collected in trade paperback this week) is rooted in a version of the classic Archie timeline. Written and drawn by original creator Dan Parent, Life with Kevin is very much a throwback to that era of Archie Comics—which comes with some pros and cons.

First and foremost, Parent clearly loves this character. This is not unlike how Brian Michael Bendis treats his own creations in the Marvel Universe with endless affection—which has kinda become a problem in recent years, but that’s a topic for another day. It makes sense that Parent would return to deliver another chapter in the life of Kevin Keller. After all, why wouldn’t he? Nobody knows a character better than the person who breathed life into them.

Now a college graduate living in New York City with best friend Veronica Lodge, Life with Kevin imagines our titular protagonist as an Anderson Cooper-type who’s looking to make a name for himself in the world of journalism. If that sounds like the setup for an archetypal romantic comedy, well, that’s exactly what Life with Kevin is.

Meet cutes! White collar jobbing! Sassy best friend! Life with Kevin is basically the queer rom-com we never get to see at the movies, and it succeeds on that level. All the tropes are clear and present here, so anybody who loves a good romcom—one with a gay character at its center especially— should turn their attention to this one. That being said, the opposite is also true: those who don’t like romantic comedies probably won’t find much for themselves here.

The classic Archie tone will also either attract or alienate potential readers. While this style of comic isn’t exactly to my personal taste, I enjoyed it! Life with Kevin is a light, breezy read, and sometimes we just need a bit of fluff in our lives. But, if you’re approaching this comic as a fan of the CW series, you’re going to be disappointed. Riverdale’s Kevin, though upbeat and amiable like his comic-book counterpart, has also displayed a lot more darkness there than anything you’ll see in this story.

A slight quibble I have towards Life with Kevin is the limited color palette, which consists exclusively of blacks, grays, and blues. Having seen what Parent’s classic Archie aesthetic can look like with an expanded spectrum of hues in the bonus issue of Your Pal, Archie included with this collection, it’s a shame (yet amusingly ironic?) that a vibrant character like Kevin is reduced to only a few colors.

The Verdict: Check it out.

Delivered in the classic Archie Comics aesthetic, Dan Parent’s Life with Kevin is an amusing—if slight—chapter in the life of its titular protagonist.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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