Archie Comics for April and May 2010

The big story from these two months is in Archie #608-609, the Archie/Valerie romance, but we’ll save that for last. And I’ve already reviewed Jughead #201. (All of these comics are cover-priced at $2.99 each and were provided as review copies by the publisher.)

Archie & Friends #143

script by Batton Lash
pencils by Bill Galvan
inks by Al Milgrom

The Freshman Year: Missing Chapters storyline, which began in issue #140 and has continued since then, reaches part 4 with a focus on Chuck.

I was struck by the overly padded opening, which shows Chuck receiving recognition for his cartooning before flashing back to his earlier comic work. It takes three pages to show him with a headline about this honor — and what a headline. It’s way too long, because it includes every cliche about news coverage of comics, beginning with “Pow! Bam!” But maybe the Riverdale paper has so little to cover that winning a state high school art contest justifies taking up the entire front page — with an odd little Kirby homage as the second image.

It’s cool to note how we’re told that Chuck got started. He made minicomics — “got a couple of blank sheets of paper, folded them in half, and started drawing” — about people he knew and the funny things they did, and then gave them away. (They’re drawn to look like black-and-white minis on colored paper, too.) The plot is about a former classmate, now tough guy, looking for Chuck. The presumption is that he’s angry about the way Chuck drew him back then, so Chuck has to hunt down the comics he gave away to try and remember what happened. Even with the horrible opening, this is the best story in this short “Freshman Year” series.

It’s touching the way everyone liked being made into a comic book and is impressed by his art. Whenever a comic has a character who makes comics, there comes the risk of too much validation of the artist, as the creators praise themselves by proxy. But here, Chuck keeps his good-guy nature and the focus is on how entertaining even simple comics can be.

Veronica #200

script and pencils by Dan Parent
inks by Rich Koslowski

Hey! Veronica’s comic has been around for 200 issues, since April 1989. That’s over 20 years! But plugging the date instead of the number would make the eternal teen queen seem ancient. Instead, they choose to promote last year’s Veronica’s Passport collection. (See the bottom of this first page.)

Since much of her comic has been about her world travels, and since, as she points out, she’s already been to the moon, where can she go for this special anniversary? How about back in time? Dilton and Veronica’s cousin Marcy have put together a time machine, so Veronica goes snooping through Riverdale’s past, where she accidentally interferes with key moments. Speaking of past entertainment, it felt to me like someone had recently watched Back to the Future. Plus, this story isn’t really about the character of Veronica much, which was a shame.

Archie #608-609

script by Dan Parent
pencils by Bill Galvan
inks by Rich Koslowski

Here’s the unfortunate thing about advance promotion — I’ve been looking forward to seeing Archie and Valerie go out together since January, when they first announced this story. But since it’s going to run for two issues, they’re doing some padding. We don’t actually see Valerie and Archie interact until page 16, and that’s just with their bands playing together. Until then, there’s some silly slapstick about Alex Cabot switching contracts for a reason no one wants.

Josie and the Pussycats and The Archies are going on tour together, so they’re rehearsing and writing songs together. By the end of the first issue, Archie and Valerie kiss, and act that didn’t really seem set up sufficiently to me. If it was a movie, with actors demonstrating chemistry, it would be different. Here, it reads as though it’s just a function of being over-tired together, combined with authorial plot mechanism. The pacing is very much off. I know the writer had to hit key points by the end of the first issue, but this good story idea could have been better executed.

In the second issue, the bands are playing a concert together, although since the Lodges show up when Archie and Valerie go to the movies, apparently they’re also still in Riverdale. Days later, their tour is going on, but the two are hanging out at Archie’s house. Does anyone in this comic realize that “touring” involves travel?

No one at any point mentions Valerie’s skin color, a pleasant surprise illustrating just how far our society has come. I missed seeing more of the band interaction, though. It’s all focused on Archie and Valerie (with a duet that’s a nice idea). Although we’ve seen Archie date around plenty, we’re told several times that “this is different”, and by the end of the second issue, I could potentially believe it. It all depends on what happens in #610. If it’s forgotten and not mentioned again, this was just a publicity stunt. But if they follow up, I’ll go along with it.


3 Responses to “Archie Comics for April and May 2010”

  1. Bill Beechler Says:

    Dan Parent says a follow-up story for Arch and Val is coming and it’ll have one of the featured spots in the digests.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, good to know, thanks! I look forward to seeing it.

  3. Links: Good Comics for Kids head to the ALA « Good Comics for Kids Says:

    […] Little Miss Adventures and The Heart of the Maiden (Comics Worth Reading) Johanna Draper Carlson on Archie Comics for April and May (Comics Worth Reading) Alan David Doane on Archie #608-609 and assorted other Archie titles […]




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