Best Shots: FLASHPOINT BATMAN, AVENGERS ACADEMY, More
Best Shots Comic Reviews
Greetings, Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, coming to you with the crackshot reviewers of the Best Shots team! We've got a ton of new releases for your reading enjoyment, including the latest books from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and BOOM! Studios. Want to see some more back-issue reviews? We've totally got you covered at the Best Shots Topic Page. And now, let's kick off the column with a new spin on the Dark Knight, as Aaron checks out Flashpoint: Batman — Knight of Vengeance…
Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance #1
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso and Patricia Mulvihill
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by DC Comics
Review by Aaron Duran
Click here for preview
Some of my favorite DC stories fall within the Elseworlds moniker. If they had any setbacks, it's that the tales were often limited to one or two characters. Take Batman and make him a vampire, Superman raised by a loving couple in the Soviet Union. With DC Comics announcing all their characters getting the hard reboot treatment in September, all the titles within Flashpoint feel like a company-wide Elseworlds tales. A few months ago, that would have upset me. Why make produce a massive event if none if it will matter in the long haul? Still, there is something freeing in reading a story where all bets are off. You get creators telling tales they never could have under the old order. Which is exactly what it feels like Azzarello and Risso are delivering with Batman - Knight of Vengeance.
Thomas Wayne was the sole survivor of that fateful night in Crime Alley. From place of pain and revenge, a different kind of Batman is born. A Batman that doesn't necessarily want to prevent anyone else from experiencing loss. This Batman wants revenge. This Batman has no qualms about putting thugs in the grave. Azzarello is clearly having fun playing with the literary memory of the saint-like Thomas Wayne. Gone is the philanthropic doctor, in his stead, a ruthless casino owner that has much in common with the criminals he so hates. And yet, Azzarello knows this is still Batman. Indeed, this is the Batman we all thought Frank Miller could still write. Before we ever see him don the cape and cowl, Azzarello firmly establishes what kind of man we're dealing with. He's brilliant, driven, but somewhere deep within Thomas we see something else. Azzarello writes a Thomas Wayne that understands he is old, that his quest for vengeance will never be satiated. He knows he can never bring back his wife and son, and this deep depression manifests in an almost tangible aura of hate.
Eduardo Risso paints this Gotham with some heavy darkness that fits wonderfully with Azzarello's distinctly grim Gotham. Even in the few daylight scenes, or moments within Wayne's grossly lit casinos, there is a layer of tarnish that simply won't go away. Risso's art is very much a study in style over substance. Often trading dynamic action for emotional content, the shadows in Batman — Knight of Vengeance permeates every page and panel. Again referencing Frank Miller's take on an aging Batman, Risso's choice to obscure Wayne's face in almost every shot delivers a deep connection to the reader. You can feel his hate and pain. In a limited series, Azzarello and Risso don't have a lot of time to establish mood and setting, as they did with 100 Bullets. It is Risso's art that carries the bulk of the heavy lifting. So, when we first see the head of Gotham's private police force, Jim Gordon; we see a weakened man. This is still Gordon, someone that wants to make the world a better place. Sadly, something is missing from him, as if the world took his pride and he's only going through the motions now. So many complex character issues handled wonderfully in Risso's deep shadows and heavy lines.
Like the best Elseworlds stories, Batman — Knight of Vengeance is a wholly familiar world that we would never want to be a part of. Under Azzarello and Risso, we longtime DC readers are getting one hell of a Batman. Maybe not one that could have endured for over 70 years. But, as a potential swan song for Gotham and all it's heroic and horrible denizens, it's a tale I want to see through to the ugly end. And boy, is it going to get ugly.
Avengers Academy #14.1
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Sean Chen, Scott Hanna and Jeromy Cox
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
On the surface, you might think Avengers Academy is another iteration of the tried-and-true teenage superhero team that you've seen before, whether as the Teen Titans, the Young Avengers, the Runaways or the Young Allies. But that's just on the surface. If you read Avengers Academy #14.1, you'll realize that Christos Gage is using this team as a fascinating platform not just for character development, but to ask some truly overlooked questions about the superhero genre. Deconstructing the mythos at the same time as he embraces it, this book is so interesting because it tackles this simple query:
Why be a superhero? What impact do they make wearing a fancy costume that they couldn't surpass using their powers in the private or public sectors?
Superhero comics today have a few stumbling blocks, but I'd argue that one of the biggest ones is the issue of theme. What is this story really about, besides the Avengers Academy putting the hurt on a supervillain? When you turn the fight into a question about morality, and whether or not these truly conflicted teens are even doing the right thing at all, that's when you get an interesting story that works on multiple levels. While I'd admit that the broken nature of these characters might not hit as hard if this is your first issue, the overall tone of the story makes this a great one to jump into. Self-contained, a sharp mystery, and if Gage has played his cards right, maybe even a new nemesis that truly fits this team.
Sean Chen, meanwhile, really works some wonders with his artwork, making scenes that occasionally run a little talky into something dynamic — his storytelling is his chief strength, which again is something that's going to be overlooked by many, but it makes for an easy-to-follow read. I'll be the first to admit that his designwork isn't the flashiest thing in the world, and occasionally the fights veer in that old-school, multiple-things-going-on-at-once vibe rather than today's popular, focus-on-one-thing widescreen fights, but let me say this again — story is king. I do love the expressiveness he gives his characters, as well, whether its Mettle, whose face still speaks volumes even as its frozen in the shape of a skull, or teen billionaire Jeremy Briggs, who can have one arch of the eyebrows tell you so much.
Now, does this book occasionally get a little talky? Yes, but that's the nature of this philosophy-driven storyline, which I'll also add just runs 20 pages. Is there some continuity involved? Yeah, but to be honest, if knowing that the Wendigo is a tough bad guy is really going to trip you up, then superhero comics in general probably are not for you. This book may not be the flashiest Avengers book on the stands, it may not have the A-list characters, and it may not have the world-shaking threats. But what Avengers Academy does have is a reason for being, a justification each and every issue for why you should read this book. And the best part of all? Gage is getting demonstrably better, each and every issue. People vote with their wallets with these books — show Marvel that you like quality. Buy Avengers Academy.
Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by George Perez, Fernando Blanco, Scott Koblish and Tom Smith
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
It's an increasing rarity out there, but there are still some comics out there that make their marks not by their stories, but by the electrifying art they contain within. Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1 is one of those books. Putting a fresh coat of paint on George Perez's tried-and-true style, this is less story and more sheer spectacle — and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The unsung hero of this book is almost assuredly going to be colorist Tom Smith, but DC, listen to me — he's a keeper. He's got this brightness to his work that's almost reminiscent of Laura Martin, and it absolutely catapults George Perez's old-school style into the 21st century, highlighting story and otherworldly energies rather than just nostalgia. But that's not to slight Perez, either, who proves that he is a master of sequential art. His designs, his layouts, his details, the sheer expressiveness you see when the Enchantress scowls to herself, Perez is an artist's artist, and putting him on the character of Shade is absolutely the right choice.
Peter Milligan, meanwhile, has an interesting line to toe here. Let's be frank — Milligan helped redefine Shade during his Vertigo series. In many ways, one is synonymous with the other. So seeing Milligan within the context of this event-driven story, how does he stack up? Well, it's an interesting way to see how he tackles this project, taking a very sci-fi, esoteric bent to a character that, well, has pretty much been associated with a sci-fi, esoteric tone. The real meat of this story, I find, actually comes towards the end, however, as we meet the Shade's surprising savior, the Enchantress. It's a nice mix of introducing this crazy, but visually interesting world, as well as giving us a taste of the human interaction within.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't discuss Fernando Blanco, who tackles about a quarter of the pages closer to the end of the book. Blanco has a little bit more of a cinematic tone to his artwork, almost a shade reminiscent of Norm Breyfogle or Doug Braithwaite at times. It's a nice counterpoint to Perez, although it's certainly similar enough in tone that if you aren't paying attention, you'd likely miss it anyway. A lot of that has to do with Smith's electric colorwork, but inker Scott Koblish also deserves plenty of praise for keeping the visuals a match, resisting the urge to drown out the Shade's light with moody shadows.
Now, while I don't know if I'm ultimately sold on the story told here, the images are so striking that I'm definitely on board for Issue #2. Peter Milligan once redefined the Shade for a new generation — now that his baby has been given new importance within the context of the greater DC Universe, will he play ball, or will he play by the numbers? As far as this first issue goes, he seems to be going for all he's got, and when you've got capital-A Artists like George Perez and Tom Smith on board, that's not surprising in the least. We may have only met a few of the Secret Seven, but it's a first impression that'll stick with you.
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Val Staples
Lettering by Sean Phillips
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Scott Cederlund
Click here for preview
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips display a biting dark sense of humor in Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1 that’s been seen in past Criminal stories but never this sinister or funny. In all of their books from Sleeper to Incognito, there’s been an absurdity to a many of the situations that break the tension of the story. Usually Brubaker and Phillips humor have served as brief respites from the darkness and muck that they bring their readers down into but in their latest Criminal, the humor wickedly contrasts the life that Riley Richards had and the life he has now.
Maybe we just don't know Riley yet but he seems much more innocent than most of Criminal's protagonists. A suburban boy who dated the girl next door but married the rich girl who moved to town, Riley is almost average when you compare his to Tracy Lawless, Leo, the Hydes or any of Brubaker's characters. As Brubaker and Phillips show Riley's memories of growing up in their faux-Archie visual style, they're showing how his memories have been colored by time. He innocently remembers getting stoned with his best friend who is now a recovering addict. He innocently remembers his wife's disapproving father even as he was hiding under her vanity table. He remembers Lizzie, the girl next door who when he first sees her looks exactly as pure and timeless as the girl of his memory.
Those are just memories as Riley is stuck in the present; in a loveless marriage and in trouble with the crime lords of Brubaker and Phillip's unnamed city. If his memories look like lovely Dan DeCarlo drawings, Riley's life is stuck in the sordid and lurid visuals of Phillips and Val Staples. Riley is trapped in the world that he longs to regain and the world that he's stuck in. Brubaker and Phillips give him a lovely moment of clarity at the end of this first issues when the two worlds collide in a dream sequence. As he sees his past, not just as memories but as something that can be regained, Brubaker gives Riley a perfect moment of dark humor, a near perfect cliffhanger that lets you know just what Criminal: The Last of the Innocent is going to be about.
The incongruity of Riley's memories, unflattering and realistic but drawn as an Archie comic, gives this series a character that it hasn't had before. We've seen Brubaker and Phillips play with the comic form in Criminal: Bad Night where the main character got advice from a Dick Tracy-like figment of his imagination. In that book, the comic-like elements were a sign of the character's madness. In Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, it's not madness that Riley's seeing but his own desires. He wants the world to be something like an Archie comic so that is what colors his own vision and memories. Brubaker and Phillips are great at finding new ways to tell their crime stories, including finding different ways to use Phillip and Staples art to give commentary on their characters and their stories.
If you're going to keep on creating and reading these kind of dark, twisted crime stories, eventually you need to find some humor in the situation. It's not going to be laugh out loud guffaws but you need to find things that you snicker at and maybe even one or two chortles. Those moments happen in real life in most every situation and they have to happen even in comics involving life and death decisions. They don't always have to be there but they do need to happen now and again. Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1 gives us a number of those moments as Brubaker and Phillips dive down into their seedy crime stories but also take us out of the city and show us a bit of the American suburban dream. And it looks a lot like Archie, Betty and Veronica. The dark humor of Riley Richards' life is a welcome treat in this latest story of crime and murder.
Planet of the Apes #2
Written by Daryl Gregory
Art by Carlos Magno & Nolan Woodard
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Deniz Cordell
What separated the Planet of the Apes films from their science-fiction brethren was not its bizarre, compelling retroactive chronology, their brilliant, brilliant scores, or even the groundbreaking make-up. No, what makes them beloved is their sly, subversive satire. What Pierre Boulle – and screenwriters such as Rod Serling, Michael Wilson, and Paul Dehn all understood was that this sort of topsy-turvy, straight-out-of-a-parable setting could serve as a vehicle for trenchant societal commentary.
BOOM! Studios' new Apes series clearly draws its inspiration from the film series, taking place 1,200 years before the arrival of the Charlton Heston character from the first film – where humans are confined to a ghetto called “Skintown,” and many still possess the ability to speak. The story is, in some ways, the mirror to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – which used the Watts Riots as its springboard – but maintains the idea of the oppressed trying to cast off the shackles of the oppressor. There is also a thread that seems to be connected to an idea from Escape from the Planet of the Apes, as some importance is placed on an unborn human child. Like the films, too, the story hints at prejudice within the Ape castes, as well.
Daryl Gregory’s handling of the plot draws from an Elizabethan tradition – it’s very much built around behind-the-scenes political machinations, and much handwringing and soliloquizing. It’s a unique approach, and there are moments where it ends up being surprisingly engrossing. Gregory’s dialogue captures that half-stilted/half-stentorian formalized syntax that the Apes were endowed with in the films – such as the imprisoned General Nix, who upon hearing news of the death of the Lawgiver, notes: “And you came to deliver this news in person. Why, to see whether I weep or laugh?” Gregory also liberally peppers his dialogue with references to everything from the various Apes films to The Merchant of Venice, to citing John Wilkes Booth’s infamous cry as a call of revolution – it’s an inter-textual feast.
Added to the simmering plot pot is the investigation into the assassination of the Lawgiver – the leader of the Apes. There is an interesting scene in Skintown dealing with an Ape arms-maker named Laughing Jack – whose decision to live among the humans, and his world-weary appearance and attitude make him one of the more interesting of the simian characters so far. Another chilling scene involves a meeting in a location called “Church,” whose residents worship a bomb – providing a look into the beginnings of the cult seen in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
Artist Carlos Magno is given a very difficult assignment on this series – namely, giving each of the apes their own individual look so that they stay readily identifiable. This is, perhaps, a harder task than one might first assume – as brilliant as John Chambers’ make-up work on the films was, it was the voices and performances of actors like Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans that gave the characters their distinctive qualities. Magno’s style is ultra-detailed, which has its advantages at certain moments at the story – his depiction of Laughing Jack’s shop is filled with little marvels, and is a delight to take in.
At other points, however, his work seems over-rendered, which leads to the page seeming overwhelmed, and ultimately difficult to digest. He provides enough of a distinctive look to each ape that the reader can delineate the leads with ease. Like Gregory, Magno’s artwork provides some tips of the hat to popular bits of Apes iconography. Nolan Woodard’s coloring is perhaps a little too monochromatic, there’s a “one-ness” to the color schemes in each scene that doesn’t provide much separation between the characters, props and backgrounds. Still, his use of various lighting sources within each scene is executed well.
If I have any reservations about the issue, it’s that its tone is far closer to the sword & sandal genre than it is to the sort of heady science-fiction/piquant satire that Boulle fashioned. Shades of Spartacus are definitely contained in the pages, from the “ancient epic” visual aesthetic, to the themes of war and uprising. Perhaps later issues will make a tonal shift, but for now, the story seems firmly entrenched in this milieu. The tone of the original novel is something I miss, but I still found myself enjoying what was being set forth. The Apartheid fable that seems to be on display isn’t the most original parallel to make, but as long as it’s executed well, then that won’t matter to me.
As an experiment – since every issue is someone’s first – I read this issue on its own, without reading part one. The issue never left me scratching my head questioning who the characters are, or what their motivations were. The plotting is strong, and the final page leaves a promise of tragedy and intrigue that is quite enticing. All told, it’s a pleasant trip to an unpleasant world. Gregory’s scripting really works – the more I think about the writing, the more I realize how splendidly he executed what could have – in the wrong hands – become a very dry, dramatically inert experience. Thankfully, it is not.
Fear Itself: The Deep #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Lee Garbett, David Meikis and John Rauch
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
Out of all the Fear Itself tie-in books, Fear Itself: The Deep was the book that I was looking forward to the most. A quasi-reunion between the cast of the Defenders, with The Sixth Gun's Cullen Bunn behind the wheel? Count me in, I said, eagerly flipping through the pages. But as much as I like the characters, and as much I like the writer, this book sinks rather than swims, being too slow in its introduction of characters while never really convincing us why we care about them in the first place.
I don't like saying that, however. But this first issue definitely is not for a new reader, or for someone looking to be convinced about why the Defenders are a bunch of awesome, criminally overlooked characters (although they absolutely are). Instead, Bunn goes about as in media res as possible, which works if you've been reading Fear Itself, and probably New Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, and Namor's own series for good measure. Bunn's mission: Let's get the fighting started early, and that will hopefully keep the readers invested and hooked as we introduce characters.
Continuity aside, it's pure setup — we meet Namor and his sidekick Loa, we meet Dr. Strange, and then two more team members show up to fight some sea monsters. But as far as the human struggle, or even giving new readers a moment that explains why we like these characters, that needed edge just isn't there. For example, the destruction of New Atlantis is fairly glossed over — I want to know, is this destruction all-encompassing? Is the kingdom totally destroyed? How big is this act of terror, and why does it tear at Namor so? It's assumed we like the Defenders, but as the team's track record has proven, we're going to need a bit more convincing than that.
Lee Garbett's artwork, meanwhile, excels the most when it comes to his character design. There's a real sharpness to his characters' features, but for Namor and Stephen Strange, that actually works well. These guys aren't your standard A-list superheroes, they're cut from a different cloth, and Garbett's artwork works well in that regard. Considering how overlooked Garbett was on Batgirl, it's probably not a surprise to see that the character of Loa, even covered in Wildstorm-esque tattoos, has a softness to her, a look of awe that makes her our Kitty Pryde window into these admittedly convoluted proceedings. Yet I would argue that his panel layout still isn't quite there yet, in terms of maximizing his space, and perhaps worse, his designs for the sea monsters feel underdeveloped, just covered in shadow or zoomed out to the point that they're indistinguishable. That makes the threat feel underwhelming, and makes this reunion seem less organic and necessary than it could be.
That all said, maybe there's a different target, a different game plan at work. The Defenders are not a name brand property — if it was, I imagine this book would have a different title on the cover — but maybe the directive was to court those die-hard fans, who are just jonesing to see Namor and Dr. Strange team up once more. Maybe this arc is supposed to be a complement to the larger Fear Itself book, and if you don't follow that or any of the other books, it's up to you to keep up. I don't know — all I see here is a missed opportunity to cultivate some real diehard fans on what's traditionally been a cult Marvel team book. There is so much potential to Namor and Dr. Strange, but this first issue of Fear Itself: The Deep just barely scratches the surface. I can only hope that now that the team is assembled, we can start to get up to speed on what makes these characters so great.
The Green Hornet: Year One #10
Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Aaron Campbell and Carlos Lopez
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Deniz Cordell
There’s a lot to like about this series – from Matt Wagner’s smart scripting, to Aaron Campbell’s delightfully moody artwork. Throughout the series, Wagner has been juggling a few different narrative strands, as has been taking his time developing them and bringing them to fruition – and he ends this issue with a startling cliffhanger that seems to herald a darker tone in the next issue.
What Wagner has been doing – essentially – is a riff on Dashiell Hammett’s classic Red Harvest – replacing Poisonville with Chicago, and Hammett’s rough-and-tumble Continental Op with the slicker figure of the Green Hornet. I don’t point this out to belittle Wagner’s work – but to point out how he acknowledges a shared literary heritage, and makes it a part of his fictional fabric. Of interest, as well, is the fact that Red Harvest was a tremendous influence on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo – the lead character of which has much in common with Kato.
What separates this series from others of its ilk is its far more deliberate – at times almost leisurely – pacing. Time is taken to establish the steps through which Britt Reid – crusading newspaper editor – gradually transforms his alter ego into a figure to be feared by the mobs he seeks to manipulate. There are plenty of subtle touches throughout the comic, too – Kato’s reasons for refusing to use a gun-type weapon (Britt’s “Hornet Sting”) hint at a past that is being gradually revealed in the spin-off comic, and Kato and Rusty’s ingenuity at helping Reid create the accoutrements and gimmicks that provide the Hornet with his unique M.O. create. Also contained herein is the suggestion that the Black Beauty will be unveiled shortly – an exciting visual prospect, to be sure.
Wagner and Campbell set the tone from the opening splash page, and that Black Mask mood is maintained throughout. The opening scene needs only a Max Steiner score to fit into any of the Warner Brothers crime noirs. So, while story and character development play significant roles in the issue, the emphasis is squarely placed on mood. Carlos Lopez’s colors wash Campbell’s scenes in a diffused light, creating a palette that uses foreground/background contrasts to great effect. There’s a lot of “pop” to the coloring, even with the more muted approach. Campbell’s artwork continues its slightly scratchy, stylized look, with a slight infusion of Wagner’s own distinct visual sensibilities thrown in. The architecture of his pages is tremendously effective, providing dramatic momentum. The closing pages are bravura visual storytelling, and his visual geography is always clear and consistent.
Wagner’s dialogue ranges from terse tough-guy, to a talkier, more character driven dialogue – paying homage to the Hornet’s origins as a radio hero. He manages to mine some dry humor in a scene where Kato goes undercover, and the relationship between the two leads is firmly that of equals – a far more interesting dynamic than that of hero and sidekick.
In addition to that, these are superheroics with social significance, a consequence of Britt Reid’s day job. Wagner emphasizes – and I hope he continues to do so - how interdependent Britt Reid and the Hornet are with each other. Through the Hornet, Reid discovers more about himself and his place as a newspaperman, and there is a finely crafted scene between him and Ed Lowery – also of the Daily Sentinel – in which he discusses the paper’s responsibilities. The sequence also hints at the internal conflict that Britt feels in his double-role, inquiring if others view the Green Hornet as a great threat to Chicago’s safety.
The Hornet’s quest to intimidate the mobs and those held under the mob’s sway brings us to this issue’s climax, which is not so much unexpected as it is an inevitability of the story. In this regard, there’s something very classical, and almost Grecian in its import. The lesson being that although Britt works to be a controlling figure in Chicago, there are still forces that are more powerful, and with wider reach – forces that could well be unstoppable. How this will play out in the next issue, and how it will affect the Hornet’s future are two of the questions very much on my mind. This is a pretty terrific crime comic, unashamed of its pulp roots, unabashed in its love for the genres it’s a part of.
Archie Archives Vol. 1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by Tim JansonOnly a handful of comic book characters have been around since the 1940s in continuous print: Superman, Batman…and Archie. Archie got his start in the pages of Pep Comics #22 in December, 1941 and thus will celebrate his 70th birthday later this year. Archie got his own title a year later and has been running ever since with the gang of Riverdale High School as perpetual teenagers. Archie’s longevity is astounding given that it’s a humor comic and the fact that it has had to change with the times from World War II to the psychedelic 1960s, the disco 1980s and right through to the new millennium. Over the years, Archie’s adventures have been heard on radio in the 1940s and seen on Saturday morning cartoons in the 1960s and 1970s.
Dark Horse has secured a remarkable coup by presenting a hardcover archive edition of the very first Archie Comics adventures as we get to see him meet characters like Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie for the very first time. The 212 page book collects the Archie stories first published in Pep Comics #22-38, Jackpot Comics #4-8, and Archie Comics #1-2. Archie has had his look developed and perfected over decades of comic books but back in 1941 he didn’t look like the character we know today. In fact when we see him and Betty in the splash page of his first story, they look more like 12-year olds than teenagers. The look quickly changed in the second story as artist Bob Montana “aged” them into a more refined, teen-aged appearance. The second story also introduces us to Archie’s best pal, Jughead.
Throughout these early adventures Archie causes havoc wherever he goes: the school play, the basketball court, and behind the wheel of his first car as he turns it into a taxi to help pay for it, with predictably disastrous results. Finally, in the fifth story of the collection, wealthy debutante Veronica Lodge moves to town, catching Archie’s lovestruck eye. Reading these stories you quickly see that teenagers from seventy years ago were not so different than today, minus cell phones and Facebook accounts. They went out to celebrate after the big football game, went to the beach, stressed over schoolwork, things like that. Later in the book, Archie meets the boy who will become his lifelong rival, Reggie Mantle, dousing him with water as he races his car through a puddle of water.
Seventy years has done nothing to dampen the humor of the stories. Despite the time period, there’s an undeniable charm that we can relate to today. It’s simple, uncomplicated fun that still works. Bob Montana’s art is actually much more lush and detailed that the Archie look that has been common since the 1960s when artists work to maintain a consistent standard no matter who was doing the work. The Archie Archives are like a time capsule giving us a look at how things were.Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!