- Posted by Johanna on November 2, 2008 at 11:04 am
- Category: Archie Comics
Archie & Friends #124
Over a year ago, Archie announced that they would be renaming this title by mid-year 2008. Obviously, that didn’t happen, since stories have been planned through January 2009 at least. When I asked an Archie rep why, he said that they had several good ideas come in from new writers.
While the other Archie comics contain 3-4 stories an issue, this title sets itself apart by containing lengthy stories that continue across issues. Previously, it was the four-part World Tour, then a three-part visit to a comic convention, both written by Alex Simmons.
Now there’s a two-part “Battle of the Bands”, written by Jane Smith Fisher (WJHC), in which the Archies are competing to win a tropical getaway trip. The art is by long-time Archie artist Stan Goldberg, with inks by Bob Smith, and the characters look as they should. The idea of the Archies band is a comfortable one for many readers, especially older ones (parents or nostalgics), so the familiar look is a plus.
The conflicts are unusually realistic, providing a modern edge. The kids are going in different directions, with Reggie distracted by a new girl and Veronica finding skiing trips with her family more fun than band practice. As cool as it seems to be in a rock group, rehearsal is hard work, and it’s easier for everyone to find more interesting things to do. Dilton is a welcome featured player, pointing out the band’s over-confidence, researching the competition, and even stepping in to play in Veronica’s absence. He’s a character with a lot of potential, and I’m always happy to see good use made of his knowledge and skills.
There’s sufficient resolution here for those who only read this issue, but there’s an intriguing loose end left to be dealt with next month.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #97
As writer Tania del Rio works up to issue #100, it becomes harder to talk about individual issues of this title, since numerous plot threads are coming together: the kids plotting rebellion for a good cause, the state of decay with the queen and the magical kingdom, the lack of trust between Sabrina and her aunts, and Sabrina’s crush on Shinji, who’s unknowingly dating a double agent. Plus, del Rio is even introducing new content, with a flirtatious romance for Aunt Zelda.
It’s a good reminder that, even in the midst of big plans and schemes, daily life continues and people keep growing in unexpected ways. Perhaps the most memorable moment in the book is similarly a relationship-based one: it’s when Sabrina tries to tell Aunt Hilda the truth, even knowing that it risks all the kids’ plans, and receives nothing but disbelief. It’s too much for an adult to cope with, seeing the foundation of her society questioned, but the kids, without the years of expectations weighing on them, are more flexible, which allows them true vision. The art is by Lindsay Cibos and Jim Amash, who do an excellent job continuing the simplified manga look, with even smoother lines.
The final storyline, #98-100, runs December-February. I’m a little concerned what it all means, given that Archie’s press release about the “milestone 100th issue” bills it as “the exciting conclusion to the Sabrina manga series!” I suspect they may be seeing this round number as a good time to refresh the look once again. The manga approach will have run 42 issues at that point, and with only one book collection, released two years ago, it seems like a trend they weren’t able to fully capitalize on.
Given that their other push for February (when #100 will be released) revolves around “cherished memories” and looking backwards, with Veronica flashing back to the 80s and a story about the Chocklit Shoppe’s 70th (!) anniversary, if I was a betting person, I’d guess that a return to a more classic look for Sabrina may be in the cards.
Betty & Veronica #238
In contrast to the two above, with their big, continuing storylines, this issue is an example of the classic Archie-style comic: a half-issue-long main story, plus two shorter backups. In the lead, Betty plays detective while Veronica appears as pampered as her pets. She gets a parrot, which then gets stolen, because she wants to train it to go on TV with her.
The story does exactly what it aims for: a quick mystery with not many surprises, either in plot or character, but I did find one thing mildly unusual. When Veronica calls Betty with the news that the bird’s been taken, Betty is shown waking up in comfy pjs with her hair loose. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Betty with long hair, no ponytail, that she almost looked like a different character.
The backups also poke fun at Veronica, with one being about how distracted she is while she’s supposed to be cheerleading at a big game, and the other having her try to “help” out Betty’s fashion choices. Very in-character, and amusing, even if firmly in the usual Archie mode.