Archie Comics for February 2010

Archie & Friends #140

The Freshman Year flashback story, which ran for five issues in the summer of 2008, was a huge success digitally, so now there’s a followup. This issue starts the first of five issues of “Freshman Year: The Missing Chapters” with the tale of when Jughead’s family temporarily moved to Montana.

Creators of the previous story Batton Lash (script) and Bill Galvan (pencils) are back with plenty of state factoids, narration, and new characters. Much of the focus is on Sadie, a cute brunette who’s intrigued by the new kid and his love of food. Given how much more has to be explained to the reader, the dialogue is much wordier here than in your typical Archie comic, with everyone expounding on what they think and how they feel.

As in the previous story, the characters don’t look much different from their (slightly) older versions, although there are panels where Juggie appropriately looks like a kid instead of a teen. Mostly, the changes are in their attitudes. Jughead is even more reserved and diffident, if possible, to show his homesickness, before accepting the possibility of a girlfriend. I know it’s a typical story for a teen guy character, but love stories with Jughead just don’t read right to me. He’s supposed to be disinterested in women.

Veronica #199

Veronica and her mother are off on a class trip to Washington, D.C. For this occasion, Veronica’s outfit consists of a white shirt, blue vest, and red-and-white-striped pants with stars on large patch pockets. She looks like she’s trying out for a 70s revival number in an Up With People show. Strangely, for most of this story, we only see Veronica in a brown coat that covers all this up.

Typical of a visit story, we get quick glimpses of the best-known tourist sites in the capital city. As part of their siteseeing, all the kids visit the President’s press conference in the Rose Garden. That seems a bit of a security risk, but it’s necessary to get to part two of the story. After Veronica gets personal advice from the President about the necessity of job creation, she hires all her friends to do things around her house. Of course, things go wrong in wacky ways. I expected one of them would be “paying your friends leads to resentment”, but that’s a bit sophisticated for a story on this level. Instead, it’s a frothy little time capsule piece, something to amuse readers in another couple of decades.

Jughead and Friends Digest #36

I often get the most enjoyment out of Jughead stories because they have such insight into human nature, especially the older ones. Take the snowball story early in this digest. Aside from the humor in watching people get snow in the face, there’s an underlying knowledge of how to manipulate that’s shocking and yet quite funny to see Jughead exhibit. By knowing just what approach Moose, Archie, and Veronica require, he gets to pelt them and have them like it. The last panel is yet another double-cross, the icing on the cake.

Then there’s a classic piece in which he runs away from girls, only to wind up being thought the school’s ultimate wolf due to a series of accidents. It’s the layering, accompanied by old-fashioned skilled cartooning, that makes these stories so entertaining — just when you think you’ve seen the most they can do with the concept, they top it with another twist.

I also appreciate the way Jughead isn’t afraid to be thought unusual. He’s his own person, concerned only with his goals. Sometimes that makes him selfish, as when he pulls stunts to get Reggie in trouble, but then again, who deserves it more? And it’s great fun to see him walking around with a third eye stuck to his forehead or dressed up as a butler because he lost a bet. After all, not everyone can be clever all the time — sometimes Jughead even outsmarts himself.

Betty & Veronica Digest #202

Since Betty & Veronica Spectacular is now online only, it looks like they’re reusing material designed for that book here, with the simplified art, fashion pages, tips and quizzes, and short, magazine-like featurettes. Today, the first day of Spring, was a wonderful time to read about vacation trips and gardening hobbies.

Veronica learns that there are more important things to do on Spring Break than worry about which bikini to wear, but I could really identify with the story in which Betty can’t find the right thing to wear in the season’s changeable weather. Most fun, though, was a Josie & the Pussycats story in which Alexander Cabot and Veronica try to out-snob each other. I had no idea the characters crossed over that way.

Archie’s Double Digest #206

Sometimes I really don’t understand the way time works in Archie comics. In the lead story, Archie and the gang are in Beverly Hills for a band performance. Reggie’s rehearsing “Melody Hill”, while they’re about to debut their new single, “Feelin’ So Good” (which really came out in 1969, and is better known as “Skooby-Doo”).

Most head-scratching was this line of dialogue, when they meet a couple of fans: “I remember cutting out my free ‘Sugar Sugar’ CD off the back of a cereal box.” Now, KC does really recall getting that song on a cardboard flexi-disc single, back in the day, but a cereal box CD? (Trivia: here’s a list of all the known cereal box singles from bubblegum groups.) If you’re going to use that line, why make it a CD? These days, that’s almost as outdated as a 45.

Other actual Archie song titles are mentioned as well. I know, I’m thinking too much about it. It’s just a way to include in-jokes and “remember this?” trivia. I’m glad to see more stories with the gang as a band, but too many of these title drops just make me think about how many decades it’s been since this music came out.

Many of the other stories are typical Archie — he’s clumsy or wacky — and then came this weird little two-page history of candy by Mr. Lodge. It’s those odd gems that make digests so fun.

One Response to “Archie Comics for February 2010”

  1. Archie Comics for March 2010 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Year: The Missing Chapters continues with stories of Reggie (#142) and Betty and Veronica (#141). I’m disappointed that […]




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