Category Archives: Reviews – Archie

Multiply the Quantum Vector by Pie

Jughead’s Time Police #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Derek Charm
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Derek Charm (regular)/Tyler Boss, Francesco Francavilla, Robert Hack and Tracy Yardley (variants)
Editors: Alex Segura & Vincent Lovallo
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99 US

There’s something universal about Archie comics. It seems like it’s a cultural baseline for western society (or at least North American society), the sort of thing with which everyone has some degree of familiarity, connection and nostalgia. As such, I like to revisit these characters from time to time, and the oddity of a time-travel title featuring the original slacker caught my eye. To my surprise, as I prepared to write this review, I discovered this is a revival of a concept Archie Comics published almost three decades ago. It doesn’t appear to have taken off back then, but writer Sina Grace delivers a solid sci-fi comedy here that should appeal to younger readers, though the time-travel tropes here won’t likely grab an older audience — though it does serve as a slightly amusing diversion.

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Riverdale Blues

Archie: 1941 #1
Writers: Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Artist: Peter Krause
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Krause (regular)/Sanya Anwar, Francesco Francavilla, Dave Johnson & Aaron Lopresti (variants)
Editors: Mike Pellerito & Victor Gorelick
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99 US

I was thrilled to see both Mark Waid’s and Brian Augustyn’s names in the credits for this new limited series, the latest in Archie’s efforts to offer new and more thoughtful spins on its iconic teen characters. Waid and Augustyn have always worked well together; Augustyn was Waid’s editor on the Flash run that initially cemented the writer’s reputation in the medium, and they’ve paired in the past as co-writers, to great effect. Augustyn has been largely invisible in the industry in recent years, so it’s a pleasure to see him back. He and Waid bring the same strength to this latest collaboration as they have in the past. Their more realistic examination of Archie Andrews on the cusp of adulthood during a tumultuous and uncertain time in American history really resonates, but while the characterization work here is impeccable, I nevertheless felt a little uncomfortable with it. A truly melancholy and lost Archie just didn’t feel quite right, as the writers face the burden the character’s long history and ingrained presence in pop-culture consciousness.

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Flea Market Finds: Big Moose, One-Shot

Big Moose, One-Shot
Writers: Sean Ryan, Ryan Cady & Gorf
Artists: Cory Smith, Thomas Pitilli & Ryan Jampole
Colors: Matt Herms, Glenn Whitmore & Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Thomas Pitilli, Cory Smith & Wilfredo Torres
Editors: Mike Pellerito & Jamie Lee Rotante
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $4.99 US

I realize this one-shot was released just in April of this year, and I didn’t actually get it at a flea market. No, I got this for a song at my local comic shop, because like many businesses at this time of year, it’s blowing out a lot of stock at deep discounts. And I’m pleased it did, as the $5 price point for an anthology comic featuring a previously one-dimensional supporting character is definitely a deterrent. That’s too bad, because of the three short stories offered here, one is particularly strong and another is heartening and positive in its messaging. Unfortunately, none of this fare struck me as meriting publication in an expensive one-shot. I was left wondering if this material was originally intended for use as backup stories in some of the other revamped Archie titles. Regardless, I’m glad I got a chance to read these stories, but I’m relieved I didn’t have to plunk down the big bucks to do so.

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Which Witch Is Which?

Last week saw the release of a number of impressive and strong samples of comics storytelling, and two of the titles I picked up, both debut issues for new series, had a lot in common: witches. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Wytches were both engaging reads delving into witchcraft, supernatural lore and the overwhelming challenges of adolescence, but they were also far from carbon copies of one another.

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Trading Burgers for Brains

Afterlife With Archie #1
“This Is How the End of the World Begins…”
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist/Colors: Francesco Francavilla
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Francesco Francavilla (regular)/Francavilla, Robert Hack, Andrew Pepoy & Tim Seeley (variants)
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications
Price: $2.99 US

Though I thumbed through the pages of Archie digests on the can when I was a kid (just like everyone else in the Western Hemisphere, I think), I’m not much of a reader of the publisher’s comics these days. Nevertheless, it succeeded in piquing my curiosity with this comic, despite its gimmicky nature and obvious effort to capitalize on one of the big pop-culture trends of the day. But Francesca Francavilla’s art should be more than enough to draw the attention of any modern enthusiast of the medium. On top of that, my local comic shop participated in the store-specific variant promotion, and I always like to show my support when it invests in such an item. Not surprisingly, the visuals are impressive throughout this first issue, but what took me aback is the strength of the writing. Though the broad concept is clearly something of a stunt designed to spark interest outside the publisher’s base audience, the storytelling doesn’t treat it like a gimmick at all. Instead, we get a much more grim, mature take on these characters. Honestly, the zombie-genre bits weren’t what held my attention, but rather the strong characterization writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa brought to bear here.

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Agents of Shield

New Crusaders, Book 1: Rise of the Heroes trade paperback
Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Ben Bates & Alitha Martinez
Inks: Gary Martin
Colors: Matt Herms & Steve Downer
Letters: John Workman
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: Archie Comics/Red Circle Comics
Price: $14.99 US/$17.99 CAN

I don’t have any particular affection for the Red Circle super-hero characters. I have few examples of past iterations of these characters and comics in my collection, though there’s no denying the long life and staying power of the properties. Writer Ian Flynn (and an editorial committee, judging from the credit given to a “Red Circle braintrust” here) has opted to take a legacy approach to the Crusaders, distinguishing more familiar incarnations of the heroes as a Golden/Silver Age generation and introducing a new group of young heroes who find themselves forced to carry on their parents’/mentors’ mission. Flynn is hardly breaking new ground here, but fans of such heroic legacy stories (once the domain of DC’s Justice Society stories, before its New 52 relaunch) might enjoy what they find here. The overly conventional and familiar tone of the plot and characters, though, combined with a conflict between the visual tone of the storytelling and slightly harsh elements in the plot, left me with kind of a middling feeling, not only once I was finished reading the book but as I made my way from page to page, chapter to chapter.

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Class Warfare

Archie & Friends All-Stars Vol. 17 – Archie: Clash of the New Kids trade paperback
Writer: Alex Simmons
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Parent & Koslowski
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications
Price: $11.99 US/$12.99 CAN

It’s been an awfully long time since I thumbed through the pages of an Archie comic. The only other one I’ve looked at in recent memory is World of Archie Double Digest, which collected the DC-published Tiny Titans/Little Archie crossover series. I couldn’t resist the super-cute character designs and the nostalgia of the digest format. I loved digest comics as a kid (both those published by Archie and the treasure trove of reprint material in the ones offered by DC back in the 1970s and ’80s), and I’m pleased Archie is carrying on the tradition and the format today. Unfortunately, this collected edition of a storyline that ran through different Archie titles more than a year ago is offered in a more familiar trade-paperback format (though slightly smaller than the regular comic-book size). There are several subplots that string this book together, all revolving around an influx of new students at Riverdale High, coming from a shuttered school elsewhere in the district. Obviously, I was expecting the noteworthy Kevin Keller to turn up in this volume, and he does. But despite Kevin’s appearance in a few background shots and on a profile page at the back of the book, he’s really not a participant in the stories included in this collection. Instead, the focus is on a number of other new Riverdale characters. The group is clearly designed to bring diversity and more modern sensibilities to the traditional, old-school foundation of Archie comics, but writer Alex Simmons wisely fleshes out the characters beyond their races and the social archetypes they represent.

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