Archie Digests for November 2009

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #176

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #176

I’m glad that George is still around. (He was introduced as one of Cheryl’s new boyfriends last year in the reader vote story.) I like him. He’s a little more interesting than some of the older Archie characters, who are limited by reader expectations. He’s got potential, in other words.

Here, he and Cheryl aren’t getting along very well. Their tastes are different, and she’s a bulldozer in getting what she wants. When he friends Betty and Veronica on his “Spacebook” page, it’s too much for Cheryl to take. However, it all has a happy ending, full of mistaken assumptions, of course. I also like the name “Spacebook” for being goofy and yet apropos.

Another new story features Mr. Lodge upgrading his home theater system to impress his friends, but it’s Veronica’s buddies who take over. It’s a weird little “the adults lose out” piece that I imagine could have been done fifty years ago, only they’d have been fighting over the hi-fi as the kids try to play the latest platters.

After a wacky tale in which a sleeping Veronica, dressed as a clown, winds up pushed around a hospital on a gurney, there’s an older piece in which the two girls actively fight over Archie. Betty’s going to cook him dinner, but he’s going on a date with Veronica afterwards. When Betty finds out about it, she sabotages him with disgusting-sounding dishes. It’s something of a time capsule, what with the old-fashioned attitudes about how dating works and what the boy and girl each do.

Comic fans may relate to a story about Veronica and Betty helping a widow with economic problems. Her husband was a former movie animator who was never very financially successful, but his forgotten archives, found in the attic, turn out to be more worthwhile than anyone expected. Another collectible rears its head in a reprint about “beany brainys”, small stuffed toys that are worth $75 or $99 each. The idea of considering them an investment seems a bit irresponsible these days.

Near the end of the book is a “How well do you know Cheryl Blossom?” quiz, part of a series running in many of the digests this month, each one covering a different character. (The Archie one is in Archie Digest #259.) After that comes some holiday stories. One features Veronica making a Christmas list and learning not to be greedy. It’s a cute story, except that Veronica spends the whole time in a leotard. With no pants or skirt on, she looks more like she’s about to go work out than celebrate the holidays.

Jughead & Friends Digest #35

Jughead & Friends Digest #35

Speaking of Christmas, in the lead story here, Jughead takes over for Santa. I found the setup, in which Jughead’s parents are trying to give their kids a nice holiday in spite of being sick with flu, touching. Everyone I know has had a holiday like that at one time or another. The cartooning, by Fernando Ruiz and Al Milgrom, is nice, too. Nothing jumps out and calls attention to itself, but that’s exactly what the story needs, with a good sense of adventure and excitement and expression.

The art is also the foundation of the first reprint story, with Jughead’s super-long scarf leading to some wacky images and creative ideas. It has to be seen to be believed. Only in comics!

Another story is more concept-based. Jughead sets out to reform Archie’s image throughout town as a klutz. His method is a PR campaign, to the point where Archie becomes a local celebrity. Of course, things don’t go well, and order — in Archie’s case, disorder — is soon restored. Such is the comfort of Archie comics; nothing much changes.

Betty & Veronica Digest #199

Betty & Veronica Digest #199

I was surprised at the message of the first story in this issue. The class has a trip to London scheduled, but Veronica’s grades keep her from going. Since she’d been bragging about already being a world traveler to her less-advantaged schoolmates, I figured the point of the story would be to teach her a lesson. No, it seems that the point was to say that, with the right portable technology, you’ll feel just like being there. So what’s the reason for travel, then? I mean, it’s neat to see the story taking into account all the communication tools that readers are familiar with, but the end result felt off to me.

One of the reprint stories, in contrast, is nicely old-school. Chuck encourages Betty to write to a favorite mystery author, and the two strike up a correspondence. Chuck’s motives are pretty self-serving, though:

Fans of comics often remember to tell the artists how much they like their work! But they usually forget the writers! I guess they don’t hear [praise] often enough!

The story continues with some useful advice for aspiring writers. In other stories, the girls tackle holiday issues, like what to get for the girl who has everything or how to decide who spends the evening with Archie. It may be a special time of year, but some things in Riverdale never change.

(The publisher provided review copies.)

Similar Posts: Archie in 2010: Eliminated Single Digests, Took Some Titles Bi-Monthly § Archie Sales Figures for 2008 § Archie Sales Figures for 2010 § Archie Sales Figures (Almost Complete) § Where Are the New Archie Stories? Reprints and Reduced Publication Schedule

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