Archie Comics for January 2010

I know, I’m a bit behind with these, due to a glitch with getting copies, but there were some interesting stories this month I wanted to point out.

Veronica #198

Like this one, a fascinating exploration of art history through the lens of Veronica’s self-obsession. The kids are assigned to work in the style of certain famous artists, and she teams up with a talented young painter to make portraits of her. Creators covered include Monet, Da Vinci (as shown on the cover), Picasso, Munch, and Lichtenstein. The story works best if you already know the artists, since what makes them unique isn’t covered, just a representation of their best-known works with Veronica included. If you already have that knowledge, though, it’s pretty funny.

Also in this issue, Veronica gets addicted to “Spacebook”, an online networking site. Things get complicated when her daddy also joins, in a short-but-pointed piece about the different generations wanting different things from their computer time. Plus, Veronica’s geeky cousin Marcy introduces her to an actress who played a bit part on “Space Trek”. That story has another good message, about “famous” people not necessarily being well-off. I’m pleasantly surprised to see Veronica stories with themes I can get behind. It’s a very nice change from the usual “I’m rich and selfish but not unlikeably so” pieces.

Jughead #199

The psychological ramifications of this issue are fascinating. Archie starts by explaining that the girls get frustrated by Jughead because “they’re afraid he’s a bad influence on their boyfriends” with his lack of manners, laziness, and goofy clothes. We’ve don’t really see other guys wanting to be like Jughead… probably because they like having girlfriends, and he doesn’t… but ok, let’s accept that premise for a minute.

Then the girls enlist the help of Trula Twyst, who has a near-magic insight into “the inside of Jug’s head”. Archie warns them against her, because she only has her own interests at heart. (Who, in Archie comics, doesn’t?) She gets all the kids to dress and act like Jughead, under the theory that when he’s no longer unique, he’ll do something else instead. This now makes sense to me, as I’m trying to explain it to you — Jughead wants to be different, whether he realizes it or not, so if everyone’s sloppy, he’ll be neat — but it wasn’t as well explained in the story. Also, even if all the girls are acting just like Jughead, the guys are still themselves, so he’s still unusual that way. I mentioned this was a weird story, right?

Also unusual is how there are a bunch of characters in this story we haven’t seen before. The girls that want Trula’s help aren’t Betty or Veronica or even Ginger or Brigitte. They’re Amy, Barbie, and Candi (A, B, and C slots in the story?). Their boyfriends are similarly unfamiliar. The only well-known characters are Jughead himself and that early appearance of Archie as the voice of reason (??).

Of note this issue is the presence of that increasingly rare comic convention, the editor’s note. Here, we’re told that Trula’s first appearance was in Jughead #89, over 100 issues ago. Just in case you want to track it down. I’m being sarcastic, but I have wondered in the past just how long this character has been around, and I’m very pleased to have that question answered. Plus, I always appreciate it when Archie comics acknowledge their factual history.

The two other tales are much shorter and simpler. In one, Archie and Jughead screw up a task for Veronica, while the second has Jackie Frost, a gal who makes the weather cold, return to town. That’s an excuse for a series of jokes that boil down to “it was so cold my scarf was frozen solid” and so on.

Archie & Friends #138

When I reviewed the first part of this two-part story, in issue #137, I complained about the lack of background explanation, history notes or the like to explain who all these old comic characters were. This issue has two pages to make up for it, although not every character is covered, and the information provided consists of a sentence and a note in what issue they first appeared. (This is of minimal benefit, since most of the characters first appeared in comics titled (Character Name) #1.) At least it’s an attempt.

The story is exactly what was expected: the characters start finding problems in the new world they’re in, so they want to go home. Magic Plot Device, a glowing fallen comet that characters can handle with their bare hands, accomplishes this. Overall, it’s fan-fiction — “wouldn’t it be cool if all these characters met each other?” Not really, not without more for them to do. With this limited space, there’s not much room for that or anything else.

Similar Posts: Archie Launches Second Magazine Format Title: Veronica & Betty § Archie Comics for May 2008 § Archie Comics for July 2009 § Archie Sales Figures for 2010 § Archie Sales Figures for 2008

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