Stumbling at the Finish Line in Archie 25

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

While I loved Sweet Valley High books as a tween, I never put them down satisfied. The reason being that, no matter how juicy the main plot of the book was, how conniving twin Jessica got her comeuppance or “good” twin found herself back in the arms of her longtime boyfriend Todd, the last two pages would introduce a plot that was totally unrelated to provide a transition to the next book. The ending of the A and B plots of Archie 25 aren’t quite that egregious, but Mark Waid and Audrey ask the reader to switch gears from much more compelling stories. Continue reading

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Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica 1 Only Works When It’s Simple

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Crossover comics almost always have a problem of feeling overstuffed. There are two complete casts of characters and two different worlds, all of which need to be honored in one way or another. Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica 1 packs in a ton of individual character personalities, but ultimately fails to juggle them all at once. By the time we get to the climactic costume party, we’re tracking Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Sabrina, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, to say nothing of Hiram and Smithers, who we can assume are all on-site somewhere. Artist Laura Braga does some incredible design work in this issue (so many costumes!), but continuity of space totally falls apart with so many players in a scene. This issue is at its best at its simplest, but it so seldom sticks to simplicity. Continue reading

Archie 23: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: One of the few consistencies throughout all iterations of Archie is that Archie Andrews, as a character, catches a lot of flak, not just from his friends, but from readers and viewers especially. Whether it’s his inability to choose between Betty and Veronica in classic stories or his almost complete cluelessnes/uselessness in Riverdale, there’s a lot to rag on the poor kid about. Why does he continue to endure and work as a lead character, then? Mark Waid and Audrey Mok pinpoint the reason in Archie 23: whatever his faults, Archie loves his friends with all his heart. Continue reading

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8 Highlights “Teenage” and “Witch” in Equal Measure

by Drew Baumgartner

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Teenagers are exhausting to argue with. The reasons for this are both biological (an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex soaking in teenage hormones isn’t the best recipe for critical reasoning) and psychological (the complex mix of rebellion and conformity that makes up the teenage psyche makes acquiescing to even the most persuasive argument difficult), but anyone who has ever had to tell a teen “no” will have a much more practical understanding. Lacking the perspective of a longer, more worldly life, teens tend to be over-invested in everything from romantic relationships to whether or not they can borrow the family car, so everything feels like the end of the world. That means teens don’t have a lot of headroom for when something is actually a big deal, so can come off as almost blasé on matters of life and death even as they might throw a tantrum about having to mow the lawn. This is exactly the situation in which Hilda and Zelda find themselves in this issue as they try (and fail) to make a love-drunk Sabrina see just how reckless she’s being. Continue reading

Memories in the Moment in Archie 22

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Most of Archie 22 takes place in a moment after Betty’s heart stops beating and before the doctors can get it going again. During that second, writer Mark Waid and artist Pete Woods explore what Betty means to several of the people in her life in short memories. Each story is tinged with the pain of the potential loss. Each relationship depicted has its own meaning. The order of stories offers increasingly complex relationships. Waid and Woods show what Betty’s situation triggers for her mother, her friend, her principal, and her ex-boyfriend/best friend/boy next door. Continue reading

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Ryan M: Writing in the point of view of a sociopath creates a set of problems. They will never have the kind of human connection or emotional growth that ground most stories. It’s why most serial killer stories are from the perspective of the detective on the case. It’s easy to alienate the audience when you allow a sociopath to tell the story. When these characters express an earnest truth about themselves, rather than make them more sympathetic, it emphasizes what’s “wrong” with them. Often, weaving in an undercurrent of irony or dark humor can make the character easier to take. Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho breaks up graphic tales of murder with pop music critiques. A tale of horror must offer the reader a break from the evil or suffer a tediousness that lessens the impact of the darkest moments. In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7, Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack use humor to give release as Edward Spellman tells his life story.

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Crisis Reveals Character in Jughead 16

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When things are at their most dire, it can be surprising who will step up. Crisis allows people to drop their posturing and bluster and actively work on a shared goal. In Jughead 16, Ian Flynn, Mark Waid and Derek Charm show a new side of Reggie Mantle by putting Jughead in crisis. Continue reading

Splitting the World into Pre and Post Tragedy in Archie 21

by Ryan Mogge

Archie 21

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When something awful happens, priorities immediately change. Trivial pursuits are rendered meaningless when real loss is pending. Memories can be categorized as “before” and “after.” In Archie 21, Mark Waid and Pete Woods build toward one such loss by showing several characters in their “before” mode. Continue reading

Jughead 15

Today, Ryan M. and Patrick are discussing Jughead 15, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: If fiction is to be believed, magic is dangerous. If a character starts dabbling in magic, it is not long before a wise elder tells them to be careful, that there are consequences. Sure, a parlor trick is fun, but the power inherent in breaking natural laws can easily get out of control. Magic can consume your soul, inspire a sense of megalomania and, sometimes, make you a sidekick in your own comic series. When Sabrina casts a spell in Jughead 15, our title character is lost in the shuffle even as he inspires and amphitheater of admirers.

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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 5/17/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Archie 20Curse Words 5Eleanor and the Egret 2Star Wars: Poe Dameron 15Wicked + The Divine 455 AD 1, and World Reader 2. Also, we will be discussing Star Wars 31 on Tuesday and Jughead 15 and American Monster 6 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading