Archie Comics for August 2009

Archie Digest #256

Archie Digest #256

Tacky, tacky. The first reprint story in this volume is all about how insecure Archie gets after watching Veronica win a tennis tournament, a Charlie’s Angels-type movie, and a DVD about a female superhero. “All that unleashed female power makes an ordinary guy like myself feel like a wimp!” Way to be self-centered, you idiot. Why should a story about a woman fighter have anything to do with you? Why can’t you simply identify with the protagonist fighting evil? Girls are taught to watch stories of male heroes all the time and aren’t supposed to feel bad about it.

Archie then starts fantasizing about “all the gentle and adorable girls of yore… girls like sweet, sweet Betty.” Unfortunately for her, she’s been taking martial arts, which scares him away. The end. What’s the point of that? It’s not funny, it’s not a particularly good twist, and it never sets Archie straight about how dumb his attitude is. (If only someone could tell him “Veronica competing well is not about YOU.”) Boo on the company for perpetuating, by choosing this older reprint, the idea that there’s nothing wrong with boys getting insecure when they see successful women. I know that some younger readers may feel that way, and that’s natural, until they learn better. It’s that lack of learning that I’m objecting to, since Archie is older than 6 years old in this story.

I’m mentioning it here because the message is reinforced by a later Mad House reprint, one of those idiotic pieces from the 60s where the superheroine, Mighty Chick, is bummed out because no man will go out with her. She’s too strong. She can’t control her powers so she hurts the guy she hugs. She’s too competent. The only guy she can end up with is a “cowardly cheapskate” who uses her powers to get stuff for free. Tee hee, isn’t it funny to see a girl who’s not in her proper place, letting the men do the hard work? No!

Tales From Riverdale Digest #34

Tales From Riverdale Digest #34

But then, I don’t think the editors think about the messages these stories are sending, or even whether they have an entertaining payoff. In the new lead story here, Betty goes off to tennis camp but spends the whole time texting her friends at home. I expected to see some kind of ending about learning to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing instead of spending so much time on an electronic device, but maybe they were afraid that would give the wrong impression, now that they’re running ads promoting their comics on the iPhone.

Instead, the purpose of the story seems to be to show some really weird poses in skimpy outfits. There are panty shots of girls in tennis dresses. Bikini babes going head over heels and with swimsuit straps falling off their shoulders. And a nurse in a micro-mini dress (at a girls’ camp?). It’s refreshing to see art that’s got a lot more energy than many of the Archie titles, but I wish we could get that action without the peep show-style poses.

I’m talking about this issue, though, because near the back there’s a really cool reprint from the late 50s or early 60s, back when Archie and Veronica were the couple and Reggie and Betty just more obstacles keeping them apart. The biggest obstacle, though, was their own obstinacy, as this story shows. The neatest thing about it, though, is that the only dialogue consists of the words “Archie” and “Veronica”, in many moods and tones. The rest is expressive silent storytelling. It’s a clever experiment that may have been inspired by Stan Freberg’s “John and Marsha” single.

Betty #181

Betty #181

“What should we write about that girls might be interested to read?”
“Well, they like movies and shows about fashion like The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty, so let’s just tell that story over again with our character!”
“Sounds good to me, now I can take off early to play golf.”

Seriously, this is that movie starring Betty. She wins a magazine internship in New York City. She borrows high-fashion clothes and shoes. She writes copy for photo pages. (No, interns don’t do this.) She sits in on an editorial meeting (which in this case has been taken directly from Funny Face, to the point of the editor saying “Ban the black! Lose the blues! Think pink!”) where she is declared the new face of the trend and starts modeling. She even has Chad the assistant editor take her on a romantic walk through the city. (What? He’s not gay?)

It’s a lovely fantasy that, due to the location- and outfit-based art, is more entertaining than I expected, but I did find myself laughing at its transparency just a few times. There’s also a backup story about surfing dogs that was kind of silly-funny.

Archie #600

Archie #600

Yes, it’s part one of the Archie marries Veronica story … and I’m sad to say I have to agree with Bob Greenberger that the story was disappointing. The timeline doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s just artistic license, but the abbreviations and inconsistencies don’t seem to be used for any story purpose. The character futures don’t make sense — they all go to the same university, and their careers after aren’t typical for either the established personalities or college graduates.

Most out of character, though, was Mr. Lodge. When Archie spends too much money on a fancy ring (something his parents shouldn’t have supported and Veronica shouldn’t have accepted, since it would never match what her daddy gives her regularly), and Veronica announces they’re engaged, he suddenly believes in nepotism and gives Archie a job as a company VP. I can certainly see him being generous to the new couple, even if it’s unlike him to not even say one word against them, but to flat-out say he doesn’t want Archie to find a job on his own? This self-made millionaire? I don’t believe it.

Also, Jughead spends the whole time moping around depressed and not knowing what he wants to do. The last part is plausible, even though in many stories he’s been the most creative and imaginative of the gang, but I can’t believe him being so morose about it. He’s always been an accepting, happy-go-lucky guy.

It’s a shame that such a promoted, visible Archie story had so many flaws.

Veronica #196

Veronica #196

Veronica likes a song by Colbie Caillat, which leads to several creative pages where various images of Archie and Veronica illustrate the lyrics. That’s a different, attractive way of capturing an interest some of the readers likely share. The story then becomes about trying to get tickets to her sold-out concert, a classic plot that suits the character and the audience.

The followup, continuing the music theme, features Veronica considering breaking away from the Archies to take up a solo career. It guest-stars Alexander Cabot, manager for Josie and the Pussycats, who also appear. Fun story that does something new with the characters.

2 Responses to “Archie Comics for August 2009”

  1. Anthony Says:

    >>She even has Chad the assistant editor take her on a romantic walk through the city. (What? He\u2019s not gay?) <<

    I'd assume gay people are personas non grata in Archie comics in the first place… given gay characters in general still seem to be considered as "inappropriate for children", as far as American children's entertainment is concerned (see: the flap a few years ago over PBS' "Postcards From Buster" for showing two pairs of lesbian parents openly and without criticism).

    Shows aimed at teenagers, however, seem to be allowed slightly more leeway, though Cartoon Network's been known to have edited out several references toward gays in their airings of Canadian-made cartoon "6Teen."

  2. Archie Comics for November 2009 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] settling, not bothering to reach for something outside his comfortable home town. Like the previous installments, this chapter of the saga continues to be poorly written and disappointing, relying on […]




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