Archie Comics for February 2009

Archie & Friends #127

Archie & Friends #127

The story of Chuck Clayton as cartoon instructor continues. I was surprised to see a tricky subject handled subtly in this installment.

One of his students, Lori, is a font of imagination, generating all kinds of clever ideas until her grandfather arrives, which instantly shuts her down. Turns out that grandpa was a skilled comic artist back in the day, until the small company he worked for went out of business. He couldn’t get more work, and he became bitter.

Now, the plotline as sketched in the book is mild, but for those of us who know more about how the comic companies, included Archie, treated their talent, his dislike of the business becomes more resonant. (Readers like us bring more to the story than some others.) I like that his granddaughter is obviously picking up on his feelings without it being conveyed in a heavy-handed fashion. No ranting or yelling, just a quiet resignation on his part. He’s not trying to control her, just keep her from being hurt the way he was.

Chuck, of course, invites him to get involved with the course, teaching a new generation. Also interesting is that all of these characters are people of color, which provides more commentary on another change that the comic industry needs to make.

Archie’s Pals’n’Gals Double Digest #128

Archies Pals n Gals Double Digest #128

The “New Look” Midge/Moose story concludes here with a teen club dance contest. These “new” style stories are, in their plotting, more old-fashioned than standard Archie stories, full of cliches and overly familiar choices. Here, a wannabe tough guy comes onto Midge, allowing Moose to save the day.

The writing is just as bad, full of flat exposition, description of what we see in the art, and dialogue that feels like it was written by a computer programmed with too many teen shows. You’ve heard it all before.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the end, since Archie has announced another “New Look” story in Betty & Veronica Double Digest #170. Because it gives them something to collect into books.

The other stories in this digest are even more of a mixed bag than usual. A psychic spruces up her act by using Veronica’s gossip, but the stories she comes up with are still boring. Pens that send messages to each other become a school fad. Archie’s squeaky sneakers become a school fad. Beazly’s leftovers come to life. Dilton changes his image by dressing like a rock star. And weirdest of all, Archie as a teen wrestler who wins with break dancing moves.

Together, they resemble the scraps at the bottom of the junk drawer.

Archie Digest #251

Archie Digest #251

The lead story sends Archie and Jughead into the future to see the effects of global warming, only to cop out with a ridiculous ending involving a trap door that the time machine builder was apparently unaware of.

I did particularly like one reprint story this issue, about “Scoop” Scanlon, a school newspaper editor who lives and dies by misleading, scandalous headlines. He’s got a demented creativity that makes it a pleasure to see him get what he deserves.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch #100

Sabrina the Teenage Witch #100

It’s the end of an era, as Tania del Rio’s five-year run on this title, and her manga-influenced stylings, comes to a close.

It won’t make much sense without having read the last six or more issues, though. There’s a big battle for control of the magical realm, and as such, this issue doesn’t really demonstrate del Rio’s strengths with continuing plotlines and character interplay. There’s a big sacrifice and lots of posing and important statements. It’s not a rewarding read unless taken together with the story preceding it. But when you consider its history… well, Chris Sims has a lovely remembrance talking about the significance of this run for the company. Go read that instead.

4 Responses to “Archie Comics for February 2009”

  1. Ali T. Kokmen Says:

    The Chuck-Clayton-as-art-teacher Archie stores are written by Alex Simmons, who, in addition to being a comics creator in his own right, is a tireless advocate for the educational use of comics in schools. (He’s also the organizer of the Kids Comic Con in the Bronx, another manifestation of his devotion to both comics and kids.) If those elements of his Archie stories seem especially rich, it’s certainly because of the depth of his affection and advocacy for the story he’s telling.

  2. Johanna Says:

    He certainly does seem to know about and care about what he’s writing, which is always a plus.

  3. jdh417 Says:

    Oh come on, the break-dancing, moon-walking, Archie the pro-wrestler story was hysterical. Though probably not for same the reasons as when it was originally written.

    Dead on about the “New Look.” If only they would refocus this experiment into using better writing and artwork that makes the characters look appealing.

  4. ~chris Says:

    My family will miss the good Sabrina comics. *sigh*
    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to Katy Keene. (An ongoing del Rio Josie and the Pussycats would be much loved though.)




Most Recent Posts: