Archie Comics for February 2008

Archie & Friends #116

Archie and Friends #116 cover

I suppose it’s not a good sign that I was paying more attention to the ads than the stories while reading this. I’m surprised so many of them were house ads, for other Archie products. The inner front cover was for Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and the back cover was for a Disney cartoon and then, inside, WonderCon (are they really pitching themselves as that kid-friendly?). The remaining 10 were for subscriptions, back issues, blogs, DVDs, and upcoming multi-issue stories (unusual for this publisher).

The next issue of this title will kick off a World Tour storyline, while Archie #587-591 promises “Freshman Year”. No, these kids aren’t finally going to college; it’s a flashback to their first days of high school. Then the new stories in Jughead’s Double Digest are again going to try the redesign approach (Archie calls it a Dynamic New Look, with all caps) that got the Betty & Veronica Double Digest so much attention. This time, it’s drawn by “the legendary Joe Staton”, so they aren’t bothering to call it realistic.

This review continues, along with Betty & Veronica #233 and Betty & Veronica Spectacular #81, after the break.

Archie Johnny Depp

Oh, the stories? Archie and Chuck try to get photos of movie stars visiting Riverdale, and Betty again drives in a stock car race. After pages of hearing how dangerous it is (the sensible reaction when confronted with the idea of a seventeen-year-old with too many hobbies racing cars against professionals), Mr. Lodge changes his mind and approves when a pro female driver shows up to convince him it’s a good idea for more females to race. I agree with her, that’s a fine thing, but these stories seem to ignore that Betty’s still in high school (and likely will be forever).

The other thing that sticks with me from the issue is that it’s really weird to see an Archie-style caricature of Johnny Depp.

Betty & Veronica #233

Betty and Veronica #233 cover

What a weird mix of stories! First, Betty introduces Veronica to an online “second world” where they start spending all their time. Although it raises the question of whether they’re going online too often, the resolution is a stupid joke that ignores the premise altogether.

The second story throws the cast into the 1920s with no explanation. It’s neat, but it would have been so much better if the artist had done more research. The girls’ dresses look authentic, but with one exception, the guys are drawn in golf shirts and pants. It makes the whole thing look very odd. (Plus, Mr. Lodge seems to have an instant clothes-change ability.) Archie’s original car fits right in, though.

Third comes a typical misunderstanding about Veronica inviting Betty to something without giving her any details. The dialogue is good, but the story is forgettable, one of those that wouldn’t have happened if someone had just said an extra sentence. The fourth is worse, simply an example of how self-centered Veronica is. I only mentioned this issue because of the second story. Flawed as it was, it was a pleasant change from the usual material, represented by the second half of the comic.

Betty & Veronica Spectacular #81

Betty and Veronica Spectacular #81 cover

What a fresh, attractive cover! Simple image, eye-catching color, happy teen girls.

This series is the one that uses a magazine-style format, with one long story and additional short features (fashion pages, tips, and a quiz). The lead is about Riverdale high school having a “green” prom. Veronica’s nastier (and thus more interesting) than we’ve seen in a while, grumbling about “do-gooders” and tree-huggers. Relatively new character Tomoko takes the lead in eco-friendly planning, but Veronica saves the day, thanks to her dad building a new solar-powered wing on their estate.

I liked the tips for cheap dating and such at the end. I didn’t realize being eco-friendly meant (at least based on this) saving money and not buying into the capitalistic drive for more.


7 Responses to “Archie Comics for February 2008”

  1. Mark S. Says:

    I find it refreshing that you continue to review this line of comics.

  2. Dave Carter Says:

    The same thing with ads has been going on lately with the Johnny DC titles. DC has a deal to sell the advertising for Archie’s titles; maybe they’re not doing such a hot job?

  3. Johanna Says:

    Mark: glad to know these reviews have readers.

    Dave: I wondered the same thing. Or maybe companies have other ways to reach the younger crowd, like TV.

  4. Dave Carter Says:

    Or more likely facebook ads :)

    Part of the point of bringing in DC to do the ads for their books was that, by combining with DC’s kids books, they’d be able to get better ad buys by combining their circulations.

  5. Razima Says:

    Hi this site is sort of boring

  6. Johanna Says:

    Sorry you feel that way — what would make it more interesting for you?

  7. Archie Comics for April 2009 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The company apparently has plenty of page space to play with.) It’s a popular topic; Betty & Veronica Spectacular #81 covered the same subject a little over a year ago. This time around, it starts [...]

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