- Posted by Johanna on December 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
Archie & Friends #137
It’s trademark protection time! The gang goes to visit Chuck, who’s working at the local comic shop. Like many store workers, he’s pleased to get a discount on his purchases… but unlike them, he also gets to store some of his collection at the store. That just seems a really bad idea, with the risk of his books getting confused with store inventory. I’ve also never known a comic shop with enough storage space to share. Most of them are stuffed to the gills.
Anyway, after the requisite plug for how good comics are because they’re so imaginative, a meteor hits the store, which brings to life all kinds of old characters from the company’s publishing history: Cosmo the Merry Martian, Captain Sprocket, Super Duck, Pat the Brat, and many many more. The problem is, I’m a fan of Archies and their history, and I’ve never heard of any of these folks.
It would have been really cool if they’d included some history pages, explaining who these were, where they first appeared, who created them, all that background info. Or at least a web address where this information could be found. I mean, what’s the point of doing this kind of story if the vibe it gives off is “you’re much too young to know who any of these people are?” Without more information, they’re just wacky-looking nostalgia moments. I did recognize a few of the other cameos, including Wibur, Seymour, and L’il Jinx, but most of them are incredibly obscure. Dottie, with her horse Rang-a-Tang, is my new favorite.
Archie and Chuck want to get the characters back where they belong, but the visitors are more interested in exploring this new world. Oh no! Will the guys be able to restore the status quo in the next issue? (Of course they will.) Note that this is all under something that’s almost an infinity cover. Archie’s reading the same comic he’s part of.
The six-issue imaginary marriage story that’s gotten so much press here enters its second phase. Instead of being married to Veronica, now Archie is proposing to Betty. Only she barely figures into this issue. Most of it is taken up by the gang graduating college and partying afterwards at Pop’s. Even when he proposes to her, it feels like she’s second choice, with Archie talking to Veronica first. When she reveals she’s moving to Paris, he settles for the home-town girl.
Veronica throws a hissy fit, which again takes the focus away from where it should be for this to make sense as a love story. We don’t get a sense of why Archie made that choice, although I’m uncomfortably led to the conclusion that he’s 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 the reader to bring their own logic and explanations to make sense of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Betty’s the better choice for Archie, but it would be nice if it didn’t feel like she was second prize.
Now this was just what I needed to perk my Christmas spirit. Betty is decorating her tree with clothespin people. In case you don’t know what these are, you take the old-fashioned single-piece clothespins, the kind without springs, and dress them up with felt and ribbon and trimmings as though the round top was a head and the sides of the pin were legs. They’re wonderfully nostalgic for me, because I still have a set of them that my parents made when they were first married back in the 60s. I even have some of the same ones Betty has: a ballerina, a soldier, a clown, an angel… I really could relate to how lost in her decorating Betty got.
And that’s the story, Betty is enjoying the memories her ornament dolls brings, while everyone else thinks she should pay more attention to them. I was very pleased to see that the end revolved around others realizing the value of Betty’s creativity, and how great that is. I don’t think you have to have the same kinds of ornaments to relate to the magic of Christmas traditions shown here, although for me, it added another layer of wonder.
The other stories are similarly seasonally themed, with Betty and Veronica throwing holiday parties; Betty having to clear away snow, and enjoying the rewards that come after hard work; and family visiting and sharing fond memories.
(The publisher provided review copies.)