- Posted by Johanna on July 3, 2008 at 3:49 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
Archie’s digest-format collections, with mostly reprint content, have been doing some creative new cover features to draw attention. Here’s four recent examples.
Betty & Veronica Digest #185
Last year, the first Archie issue was reprinted in Archie Digest. (They’ve also done a Jughead reprint in Jughead’s Double Digest #138.) This year, it’s Betty & Veronica #1 from 1950.
This issue opens with a three-page historical article about Archie in the 50s, setting the context for the reprint that follows. With 32 pages out of 96 total, this is a treat, seeing how the girls were treated in a different era. And times definitely were different … Betty thinks nothing of driving a trick car without a license or toting a shotgun into the library. Veronica’s a showoff and Betty’s a bit of a pushover.
I complain sometimes about the girls being too much alike these days, but the modern versions are a darn sight more interesting than these two-dimensional fashion plates. These versions are sexy, though, with their wasp waists and a barely-there negligee for Veronica that shows you exactly what Archie sees in her. And it’s a pleasure to be able to read the reprint so easily and cheaply.
The last story has the current versions stepping back in time and meeting the early versions, who rightfully laugh at modern clothing styles. (No one seems to wonder how a 17-year-old can have a decades-older version of herself.) The story is unfortunately too short to take full advantage of the premise, but I loved the reason they decided to come back home: they learned proper old-fashioned girls had to wait for the boys to ask them out instead of doing their own asking. Artists Jeff Shultz and Rich Koslowski do an excellent job capturing both the current and early looks of the characters.
Betty & Veronica Double Digest #161
Speaking of modern girls, this issue kicks off a five-part story in which readers get to pick a new boyfriend for Cheryl. She’d been going out with Reggie (a relationship I’m sad to see go, since it’s a perfect match), but when a dating TV show offers an opportunity, she jumps at the chance.
The next three issues will feature one date each. Readers will be able to vote on who’s best for her among a jock, a geek, and a chef. The final chapter will reveal the winner (if you consider dating Cheryl winning). In today’s world, audience participation stories are well-chosen and a good way to keep readers involved in what is otherwise slight material.
Jughead and Friends Digest #28
It’s a timely tie-in (or rip-off, depending on how charitable you feel — I like Juggie’s adventures, so I think it’s a hoot) in which Jughead tells how his great-uncle “Riverdale Jones” went globe-trotting in search of exotic food. Jughead and Archie find one of his old maps and go off to find the “Chilly Grail”, an ancient milkshake cooler.
In Farlandia (great name for the place that always serves this function in film) they search for the Temple of Food (direct and to the point). It’s goofy, but the light-hearted fun somehow adds an ingredient that the real Indiana Jones movie (which was enjoyable but took itself too seriously) was lacking.
In other stories, Jughead goes monster-hunting in Toronto, and That Wilkin Boy has an amazing charade-playing dog. I like the Wilkin stories because while the situations are just as classic as in the Archie gang stories, the cast isn’t seen as often, keeping the characters fresh.
Jughead’s Double Digest #141
The “New Look” Jughead story continues with part three of four. “New Look” here means no borders on the pages (full-bleed art) and giving everyone, boys and girls, the same face (except for Juggie’s nose and Archie’s freckles). I’m not a fan. No one is recognizable, and everyone’s generic.
Even less do I like the story. The gang ham-handedly sets Jughead up on a date with a new girl, Sandy Sanchez, and then when the two start dating, they don’t like the way they’re changing. Jughead gives up his hat, and Sandy calls him “Forsythe”, his given name. Everyone’s caught up in winning a picnic “couples’ competition” the school is sponsoring.
The story seems to have nothing to do with the characters. Why would Betty and Veronica, after knowing Jughead and his disinterest for years, be so insistent that he start dating someone? Why would Jughead suddenly become a jock? In order to make it work, everyone has to act like idiots, controlled by the writer in contrast with their established personalities. Convenient accidents get some characters out of the way when their presence would affect the story. Worst of all, Jughead’s no longer interested in food!
I’ll be happy to see the story end, just because I’m curious to see how quickly they put everything back to normal without learning the key lesson: it’s okay for some people to not be interested in the opposite sex. Or dating at all, for that matter.