Archie Comics for November 2009

Archie & Friends #137

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.

Archie #603

Archie #603

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.

Betty #183

Betty #183

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.)

8 Responses to “Archie Comics for November 2009”

  1. ADD Says:

    I had no idea those were real characters in the comic shop story either, and I’ve been reading Archies literally as long as I have been reading comics, since 1972.

    I wish they’d taken the opportunity to make the story something special and substantial, because it really felt like it could have been just that. Maybe part two will be an improvement, although there’s little reason to think so based on part one…

  2. Reeve Says:

    There was an issue of Laugh from the late 80s-early 90s that featured Super Duck, but aside from him and Lil’ Jinx, none of those sound familiar to me. In the case of the Laugh issue, I think they did explain somewhere who Super Duck was; it’s a shame that they didn’t do the same this time around.

  3. James Schee Says:

    Wow those are some really odd looking characters in that first comic. Guess its a decent try to see if any strike fans fancy, so Archie might try and give them a better look down the road.

    The fact that Betty doesn’t get the attention/respect for a story of Archie proposing to her doesn’t surprise me. The whole premise of so many Archie stories all seemed to be about how, even though Betty is a nicer/better person. Archie really wants Veronica, but will fall back to Betty if Veronica doesn’t want him.

    Maybe its good for the brand that the stories aren’t being written well though. I remember there was a show, oh a decade or so back. I can’t remember its title, but had a certain mystery plus tragic “I can never be happy until I solve this” theme to it.

    They did a a two parter though where the mystery was solved, and the character found happiness that was really well done. Right up to the end when it was revealed to all be a dream/memory implant. Then they tried to go back to the mystery and tragic formula, but I just wasn’t into it after having such a good ending. (even though it turned out to not be “real”)

  4. some other chris Says:

    Having grown up reading Archie digests, almost all of those characters were familiar to me, thanks to the reprints. Captain Sprocket, for instance, was in nearly every issue of Mad House Digest — but nowhere else. Super Duck also seemed to have a story in nearly every issue of Laugh Digest.

    Ask Tony Isabella about Cosmo the Merry Martian.

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  6. James Edward Says:

    When Archie Comics published it’s Best of the Decades series, Volume one, the very first Archie story featured a black man (train porter?) with over exagerated black features (Big lips, etc.)
    Another Archie “best of the 70’s” volume could include all the Chuck Clayton/ Coach Clayton stories that preached racial harmony.

    It’s 2010. When will there be a gay character at riverdale high?

    While the “Archie gets Married” stories have been hugely successful, sadly, Archie comics neglects the real world of diversity we all live in today.
    It took 30 years for blacks to be portrayed positively in Riverdale. Will it take 30 years for Gay teens to even be aknowleged??

    High schools accross the country now have gay/straight alliances. Riverdale High has a Swedish immigrant Janitor.

    I’m tired of the slurs and discrimination. We live in a country where comic book characters can get married, but gay and lesbian citizens are denied the basic civil rights to get married.

    Will Archie choose Betty or Veronica? How about will Archie choose Regie or Jughead?

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