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

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

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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Jughead 14

Today, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Jughead 14, originally released April 5th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan D: After five years of teaching high school, it became clear to me that I do not envy teenagers in this decade. Kids have an entirely new plane for making mistakes to which I was not privy in the early 2000s — one which revolves around the ubiquitous little pocket-computer everyone has now, coupled with unlimited internet access and an expectation to hold a social media presence. Technology is, in many ways, a blessing and provides opportunities beyond our dreams less than twenty years ago, back when the world-wide web pretty much just hosted cool websites like “HampsterDance,” but I can only imagine the trouble I would have gotten into if I were sixteen today. Jughead Jones finds himself in a predicament in issue fourteen, a very modern problem, and he just can’t seem to please everyone when the internet is involved.

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Archie 18

Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Archie 18, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: There is an art to making conversation. If you deny this then you clearly have never tried to talk to me over the phone. When I attempt a conversation over the ol’ horn I feel like one of those poor dogs forced into booties. It feels unnatural and stilted and it’s not uncommon to endure long, awkward periods of silence. In person I’m better, but still not great, so I’ve come to appreciate those people who can make conversation. My experiences have taught me that talking truly is an art form where flow is supremely important. The same can be said for comics, where conversations and narratives alike need to flow easily. Archie 18 is a lesson on the importance of conversational and narrative flow, just perhaps not in the way it intended.

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Jughead 12

Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Jughead 12, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: Cliques get a bad rap. The term itself conjures groups of snotty teens keeping out the riffraff and wearing coordinated charm bracelets. But, really, a clique is just a group of friends with shared interests that hang out consistently. The chemistry of clique is essential. I can think of a few times that a friend group went through a few permutations before settling into a regular crew or times that I floated in and out of a group’s orbit without getting pulled in. Even when a friend group (see how concise and useful the word clique is?) is steady and cemented, you can still wonder why it hangs together at all. Ryan North explores the group dynamics of the Archie gang in Jughead 12 by focusing on the two characters least likely to get along: Jughead and Reggie. Continue reading

Archie 15

archie-15

Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Archie 15, originally released December 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Part of the problem with “doing the right thing” is that it’s usually the harder option, and quite often has no obvious reward outside of simply knowing that you’re in the right. For example, we see corrupt bankers and politicians steal from millions and never face any consequences, while those who try to bring their crimes to light are fired, arrested, or simply ignored. It’s easy to see why some people decide that morality doesn’t matter, but for many of us that simply isn’t an option: doing the right thing is too important to give up. Archie 15 finds the Riverdale Gang taking the high road in a few different ways, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee them victory, or even happiness. Continue reading