- Posted by Johanna on December 22, 2008 at 6:41 am
- Category: Archie Comics
Archie & Friends #125
What I found an “intriguing loose end” from last issue is almost completely ignored in this followup. As shown on the cover, Veronica’s left/been kicked out of the band, depending on whose version of the story you believe. I was interested in reading about how they deal with that complication, but instead, I got a boring, typical tale about the gang having to earn money for a vacation trip. The part that I wanted to read, the part that was promoted, is handled in one page of “Aww, come on, Ron! You gotta understand why I had to do that!” Very disappointing, and the story we do get isn’t true to the characters, either.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #98
The last big manga storyline begins here, with lots of exposition as the Queen and Sabrina finally get a face-to-face talk.
I may be reading too much into things, but the Queen’s story of being betrayed by her loving friend seems to me to have the subtext of an abused spouse … the bad guy cuts her off from her other friends, spreads lies so that no one will trust her, and takes her abilities from her, leaving her in a crumpled heap on the floor. She feels helpless and alone, keeping her powerlessness secret.
Or maybe I’m just having flashbacks to Mysa the White Witch and Mordru. I do like the message that the best way to win is to be honest and share the truth, however unpleasant, with those you trust and care about.
I especially enjoy Archie comics around the holidays, with their down-home heartwarming stories about helping others, decorating, and selecting the right gift, even for someone who has everything. Unfortunately, this comic misses the boat in all those areas.
The lead story is about how badly Betty is treated by salespeople, both with and without Veronica to take the spotlight. That’s it, no point beyond showing clerks as only eager to help those with money. I would think that a lesson about giving good service to everyone might be more appropriate for the season.
Then there’s one about Betty being glad that Adam’s presence makes Archie jealous, even though Adam would make a better choice for her, given their shared interests and Adam’s better behavior. Unfortunately, he comes off as a schlub, used only as a plot device. Betty enjoying that approach makes her seem more petty and less likeable.
Only the last story is appropriately festive, in my opinion; it features Betty paging through her diary to show glimpses of the characters as younger kids at Christmas. And even it ends badly, with Betty’s jealousy of Archie kissing Veronica under the mistletoe.
Jughead’s Double Digest #145
This reprint collection gets it right, though, with the first (new) story couching a story about helping the needy and charitable works in terms that both the character and audience will understand: donated pizza! It’s also about being in the right place at the right time, both assisted (with the aid of an undercover Santa Claus) and on one’s own (Jughead voluteering at a soup kitchen).
It’s a shame that I had to wait almost until the end of the comic for any more holiday tales — many of the rest are amusing, especially the one in rhyme, the one with all the food puns, the sound effects, and the staging of Romeo and Juliet, but they’re not as seasonal. (One or two are just dumb, like the found art story in which we’re supposed to believe Jughead, or anyone, hasn’t heard of Picasso.)
The last six stories finally get back to Christmas, with odd little twists, in keeping with Jughead’s off-kilter view of the world, on gifts and Santa’s secret identity and lots of consideration of the true meaning of helping others. It’s a nice high note for an ending. (Ironic, isn’t it, that last month I was complaining about the holiday stories being out there too early, and now I’m complaining that I don’t have enough of them?)