Archie Comics for January 2008

Sabrina #90 cover

As Sabrina the Teenage Witch prepares for the countdown to issue #100,”The Turning” kicks off in issue #90. She’s coping with a big loss for her: her aunt erased her boyfriend’s Harvey’s memories. Not only does he not know she’s a witch any more, he also no longer remembers they were dating! Meanwhile, she’s involved in the conspiracy to overthrow the current ruling structure of the magical realm.

As part of that plot, she’s got two magic wands that only work together, and she’s become quite jealous of allowing anyone else to touch them. Plus, there’s the soap opera of working with ex-boyfriend Shinji, whose current girlfriend is fooling around on him. Of course, with Sabrina bearing this bad news, she’s not believed.

This three-issue storyline explores the concept of Sabrina being corrupted, of going bad and apparently being seduced by her new, powerful tools. Aside from evoking unpleasant memories of Dark Willow, it’s not a storyline that I find particularly compelling, because as the title character, I know that she’ll be rescued by her friends and it will only be a very temporary change at best. I like the more personal, character-driven stories better. It’s entertaining enough for me to see Sabrina struggle with school and family and love issues — I don’t need the idea of evil wands to make things interesting.

Plus, this story seemed more slow-paced than the usual jam-packed issue. Maybe that’s because I already know all the stuff being explained to me at the beginning; a newer reader might appreciate it more.

Archie & Friends #115 cover

Archie & Friends #115 does something that’s a twist for this title, which is usually an anthology series — it tells a single, issue-long story. The gang decide to refurbish a boarded-up building that was Riverdale’s first general store back in 1859. Along the way, they figure out how to manipulate the media, uncover dirty political dealings, and learn construction and the virtue of hard work. (Although the bad guy gets away without punishment for the implied bribery.)

There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested and the art’s snappy, with lots of happy, enthusiastic teens. I have to wonder, though, about one thing. If I was a skilled construction worker, I’d be a little ticked that stories like this make it look like anyone, with the right supervision, can build a house or redo a commercial building. (Yes, I know it’s just a way to tie into those popular home improvement TV shows.) It seems to downplay the knowledge and experience that should be valued in these kinds of trades.

Veronica does call the “contractor my Daddy keeps on retainer” and gets his evaluation, but when he says his crew is ready to start, Veronica says the equivalent of “oh, we just want you to guide us”. He must be a really nice guy to allow these teens to replace his paid team. Or he wants to be sure to keep that Lodge business!

I’d like to see more of these kinds of stories, with the full issue allowing for more complications and developments. It’s a nice change from the 5-8-page stories.

Veronica #186 cover

Veronica #186 parodies romance novel covers, and underneath is a charming story about the addictiveness of serial literature and Ms. Grundy’s surprising after-school activities. It’s a very pleasant surprise to see another side of some of these long-running characters, since they can sometimes be over-familiar. And this one is still in keeping with the personalities of everyone involved.

The backup story features Veronica getting to invite one of her friends to go to Hawaii with her. She runs through Betty, Nancy, Midge, and can’t decide. I found myself wondering, though, why her first choice wasn’t Archie. Wouldn’t a romantic island getaway be her first thought? The story’s meant to be about the importance of not taking your friends for granted or making them prove they care for you, so Archie’s irrelevant, but that could have so easily been take care of with one line of dialogue.

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