- Posted by Johanna on May 25, 2011 at 10:35 am
- Category: Archie Comics
In these two issues of Archie & Friends, renamed “Little Archie & Friends” for the occasion, the company introduces a new potential franchise: Power Pets. Plus, Little Sabrina guest-stars!
Script: Angelo DeCesare
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inks: Rich Koslowski
The setup is a Power Pet Pageant, where each of the kids is having their pet compete to be “judged on talent and personality”:
- Little Archie has taught his dog Spotty (who’s as big as Archie) to skateboard for his talent.
- Little Betty and her cat Caramel are cute. (Really. That’s the cat’s talent.)
- Jughead and Hot Dog are obvious to include.
- Veronica’s show poodle Fifi is stuck up. (I would have thought a cat would have been better for Veronica’s mercurial temper, but Betty already had a kitty.)
- Reggie has a new, creepy pet: Spike, a bearded dragon (really big lizard).
- New character Chuckie (based on Chuck and presumably there to add some diversity to this crew) has an even weirder pet, Glider the flying squirrel. Unfortunately, the book isn’t aiming for accurate animal knowledge, since Glider can really fly, not just glide, and he’s lacking the wing-looking membrane that characterizes real flying squirrels.
Now, I’m a sucker for pet teams, ever since I discovered the Legion of Super-Pets, and there’s a nice mix of characteristics here, as all the pets act like their owners. Apparently, in the Little characters, it’s acceptable for Veronica to be selfish and Reggie to be mean and rude, so that provides some needed conflict and diverse personalities, while the all-American Spotty is the “good guy”. I was disappointed to see that they’d returned to the early days of the kids’ love triangle, with Archie only having eyes for Veronica, who sometimes deigns to notice him, while Betty suffers her adoration of Archie without getting any of his attention. That gives Betty’s character much less credit than she deserves — the panel where Betty, hearts in her eyes and hands clutched to her chin, sighs “I hope YOU win, Archie!” is sickening, as Jughead points out. Betty’s never been a figure of pity to me before.
But that’s a small quibble, from my adult perspective. In general, the strokes here are broad, to establish the situation quickly and make sure young readers understand the setup. And here it is: Salem casts a spell to hear what the pets really think of being asked to compete. Most of them want to win to make their owners happy, but Salem is yanked away before he can undo the spell, so the animals can continue telepathically communicating with each other. They team up to prevent the contest from being rigged and to save another pet from danger. The cartooning is happy and energetic, with big reactions so kids can tell what’s going on and background jokes to reward attention to the pictures.
It’s a fun read that animal-loving kids (and adults who share with them) should enjoy. Then things get weird in the followup, as the pets visit a zoo and meet the cover star. Yes, in this story, “Justin Beaver” is not just a play on words, but an actual, talking, singing woodland creature. Who inspires trends and crazes, including fans wearing human-sized beaver tails. The pets, with more of Salem’s help, figure out that the beaver isn’t what he seems and has a plan to turn his fans into “an army of followers” to do his bidding. With lots of magical help, they manage to defeat the scheme in a very comic-book way.
This is a really weird comic, complete with the animals dressing up as imitation pop stars (Fifi as Lady Arf Arf and The Jonas Barkers). It doesn’t have as much teamwork as the previous one, and the story careens from place to place almost randomly, but it’s certainly entertaining in its own strange way. I’d read more Power Pets stories, so I hope we see more of them in future. A cartoon would be dandy!