On Things I’ve Been Reading

Archie #600
Archie Comics
Written by Michael Uslan
Art by Stan Goldberg & Bob Smith
Archie’s Double Digest #200
Archie Comics
Written by Melanie Morgan
Art by Norm Breyfogle

In the last week I’ve done something that I’m not sure I’ve ever done in my life — I’ve bought Archie Comics. Oh, I’ve bought comics published by Archie (twenty years ago I bought my sister the New Kids on the Block comics Archie published), and I’ve bought comics about Archie heres (namely, DC’s Impact Comics line of the early 90s). But to buy an actual Archie Archie Comic, that I’ve never done.

I’m not unfamiliar with Archie and his gang. I read Archie a fair bit growing up. There was an animated series on NBC in the late 80s about Archie and the gang as junior high school students that I liked. I’ve read Archie Meets the PUnisher. So Archie and his friends aren’t completely alien to me.

Archie #600 kicks off the storyline, “Archie Marries Veronica.” The issue got a fair bit of media coverage when it was announced a few months ago, and it got even more coverage a few weeks ago when the issue came out. Archie’s Double Digest #200 starts a four-part storyline, “Good-bye Forever,” one of Archie’s “Realistic Look” stories in which the characters look like, well, normal people. This particular storyline is drawn by one of the all-time definitive Batman artists, Norm Breyfogle. Momentous storylines and a great Batman artist prompted me to give both of these a look.

I didn’t particularly enjoy them, though I loved seeing Breyfogle’s art again. The reason I didn’t enjoy these two stories is that the writing was terrible. Yes, I recognize that these comics aren’t written for me. But I don’t know who these comics are written for.

I’ll start with Archie #600. Michael Uslan’s Archie is an idiot. No, worse than that. He’s a shallow, simpering, superficial idiot. Like Peter Pan, he doesn’t want to grow up. After an Archies gig, feeling sorry for himself because he’s soon to graduate from high school, he wanders into his own future, where not only doesn’t he have any plans when he graduates from college, he doesn’t have a job, he doesn’t know anything about his friends. With his friends moving on and moving away, Archie doesn’t want to lose his past, so he impulsively proposes to Veronica — while Betty, unbeknownst to Archie and Veronic — looks on. And then, in a sequence that makes absolutely zero sense, Veronica’s father not only accepts Archie’s proposal to his daughter, but he’s going to take care of all of Archie’s problems of aimlessness. There’s absolutely nothing interesting about this story, except Betty’s reaction to the whole situation. She’s clearly crushed; Archie doesn’t see that, and Veronica can’t conceive of it. I’m not sure if there’s anything of redeeming value to this issue. Even the artwork isn’t that interesting.

Archie’s Double Digest. A few years ago, Archie experimented with modernizing the Archie look with a series of stories featuring “realistic” artwork, rather than the more familiar Archie-style. “Good-bye Forever” is the latest in this sequence of stories; in this story, Archie’s father is offered a promotion in another state, and Archie’s family will be moving away from Riverdale. The artwork is classic Breyfogle. The writing is awful. It’s overwrought, and by page five I simply didn’t care any longer. I soldiered on until the end, however, and it never got better. Actually, I think it got worse. I didn’t entirely regret buying the issue because of Breyfogle’s artwork, but the story didn’t click.

Will I carry on with either of these? Probably not. Yes, I’m curious to see how the “Archie Marries…” storyline develops (I know a little about where the storyline is going), but the writing is awful. And while I have loved Breyfogle’s artwork for twenty years (and I’m glad to see him working), I can’t stomach the thought of reading any more of “Good-bye Forever.”

Archie Comics aren’t written for me. I know that. But there’s nothing about the writing in these that is, in any way, acceptable.

For the record, my solution for the eternal Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle? Threesome. 😈

The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets
BOOM! Studios
Written and drawn by Roger Langdridge

There’s only one question you need to ask yourself — Do you like the Muppets? If you do, this is the best ten dollars you will ever spend.

This trade paperback collects Roger Langdridge’s four-issue The Muppet Show mini-series, plus an additional fifteen pages that he produced for Disney Adventures that have never been seen before. Ten dollar is serious value here, people.

Imagine The Muppet Show. Now, imagine that you’re reading it as a comic book. A really awesome looking comic book. That’s exactly what this is. The little skits are one- or two-page gags. There’s the backstage nonsense. There’s little asides to the audience. Everything you remember from the show — Pigs in Space, musical interludes, Statler and Waldorf, Bear on Patrol, news reports from the planet Koosbane, all the rest — are here, plus new skits like Gonzo’s hard-boiled PI, Gumshoe McGurk. (If you’re a Prairie Home Companion fan, think of “Guy Noir.”) Every gag is short, no joke overstays its welcome.

You’ll laugh out loud. I certainly did.

The only thing The Muppet Show Comic Book doesn’t have? Celebrity cameos.

But you know what? I can live without that.

If you like this, BOOM! is doing more Muppets comics. There’s another mini-series, The Muppet Show: The Legend of Peg-Leg Wilson, and then an ongoing series after that. Plus, they’re doing adaptations of fables and other stories, like Muppet Peter Pan.

This is quality. This is one of the best comics you’ll read this year. 😎

And BOOM!? I want a Farscape/Pigs in Space crossover. :h2g2:

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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