- Posted by Johanna on June 8, 2009 at 10:20 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
Betty & Veronica Double Digest #171
It’s the fourth “New Look” story, returning to the series that launched the more “realistic” approach. This installment is part two of four, in which Veronica works to save a nearby forest her dad has bought to bulldoze for an industrial plant that will bring much-needed jobs to Riverdale. It’s about the environment! And economic concerns! How timely!
And how overwrought, just like every other story in this series. Instead of listening to each other, Veronica and her father bicker and toss insults. Archie speaks pure exposition. And Mr. Lodge is fundamentally right: the wrong time to try and stop a project is after the deal and after the rezoning and after construction has begun.
I don’t even want to tell you who did the art (Rick Burchett & Terry Austin) because it’s so horrible. The faces don’t seem to be in the right places on the heads. It’s a good thing everyone uses everyone else’s name, because otherwise we’d only have hair and skin color to make the characters recognizable. It would have been better if they’d stuck to more standard angles instead of trying for unusual approaches that don’t come off.
The Archie characters, classic versions, have designs that are really pretty good! They’ve lasted decades, after all. One of the biggest problems with the “New Look” is tossing that out the window for designs that are generic and not nearly as good. People laugh at Archie comics for being two-dimensional and predictable, but these stories are the worst of the bunch.
There are some other oddities in this compilation, including one where Meow-Girl (Veronica) faces off against Cape Man (Archie, in red and purple). Betty (in Flashdance-style sweatshirt) repairs his costume, sweeps the cave, and repairs his cape cycle. There are two stylized Katy Keene reprints from the go-go 80s and a story where Betty plays mystery investigator, plus the usual misunderstandings, rivalries, and Veronica’s excesses.
Jughead’s Double Digest #150
In contrast, this volume uses imagination to freshen its familiar characters. Jughead falls asleep and wakes up 20 years in the future, where Jellybean is a funky cute young lady working at the Chocklit Shoppe, still there. It’s silly but faithful to the concepts.
The variety in these volumes is also praiseworthy. Reggie bets Juggie he can’t eat a 72-ounce steak in an hour (and get it for free). Veronica is repulsed and intrigued by his aunt’s homemade apple fritters. There’s physical comedy, with a baseball story where players get beaned a lot, puns in a cafeteria tale, and cute dog-and-kid humor with Hot Dog and Jellybean.
These are simple stories, but amusing. I read a lot of manga about food, but Jughead, done right, is the original gourmand.
Tales From Riverdale Digest #33
Maybe I’m getting batty from too much Archie, but I found several of these stories heart-warming. In one, Archie’s his usual clumsy self … but it’s while searching for a volunteer opportunity in which he can really contribute to the community. Another is from a time when the kids weren’t afraid to get indignant with authority — they face down a speed-trap-running sheriff/judge. There are still the head-scratchers, though. In a reprinted Weird Mystery, a wacky scientist builds a robot girl who’s a blend of Betty and Veronica’s personalities. How to defeat her? Reprogram her like Cheryl Blossom. (What?)
Archie Digest #254
The first reprint in this one reminded me of the days when the characters were allowed to have more distinct personalities, instead of always hanging together. Archie, Jughead, Reggie, and Betty are sprawled out under a tree, talking about their plans for the summer (a theme for this issue). Then we cut to Betty and Veronica, now in dresses, perched properly on a sofa. No grass wallowing for our debutante! The setting and costume changes convey an awful lot that gets lost in more modern stories.
There’s also one in which Archie demonstrates the most sense I’ve ever seen in him. He’s been saving for years to help pay his way to college, and when Veronica and Reggie find out about it, he tells them off for counting on their rich parents. Then, when she assumes that he’ll use some of the money to take her out in the way she deserves, he really gets angry. It’s a demonstration of backbone that’s especially admirable these days.