Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Reviews – Archie' Category

Which Witch Is Which?

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th October 2014

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trading Burgers for Brains

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th October 2013

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Agents of Shield

Posted by Don MacPherson on 6th April 2013

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Class Warfare

Posted by Don MacPherson on 11th August 2012

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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