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

Archie 12

Alternating Currents: Archie 12, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Archie 12, originally released September 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: In 2011, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted out 22 “story basics” she learned at Pixar. Every one of them is useful (and I encourage any storyteller to check them out, even if I cringe at how Coats’ list of lessons became “rules” as they were compiled by various bloggers), but #19 has always caught my eye because of how fickle audiences can be with coincidences. I suspect Coats is generally right, but I can’t help but think the magnitude of the coincidence is important, as well. Small coincidences that help characters get out of trouble (say, that the villain’s dropped weapon fell near enough to the hero to reverse the fortunes of their battle) would be more palatable than big coincidences that get them into it (say, that the dropped weapon landed on a button that began the self-destruct sequence on the ship just as it was hurtling towards the hero’s hometown). And, of course, these rules only apply when we’re concerned about verisimilitude — nobody ever complains about the outrageous coincidences in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon because those coincidences are precisely what make those cartoons so entertaining.

All of which is to say I think there are a few more variables in play than helpful/unhelpful in determining the success of a coincidence. Moreover, the specific profile of the coincidences in a narrative might help define it’s tone; an action thriller might allow for bigger, more unhelpful coincidences than would be appropriate in a parlor drama, for instance. In this way, a coincidence that strains credulity might not be a problem with the narrative so much as a sign that you’ve misjudged the tone of that narrative — different stories require different levels of credulity. As you may suspect, Archie 12 contains a few big coincidences that threw me for a loop, and while it would be easy to cry foul, the fact is that Archie has always been a bit cartoonier than I’ve been giving it credit for. Continue reading

Betty & Veronica 1

betty and veronica 1

Today, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing Betty & Veronica 1, originally released July 20th, 2016.

“Whoever wins, we lose.”

Tagline, Alien Vs. Predator

Patrick: There’s something comforting about the premise of a horror movie mash-up. Like, what the hell else would you expect when you put Freddie and Jason in the same room? They’re gonna try to kill each other, duh. Same deal with the Alien and the Predator. They fight and die and it’s awesome. Until, inevitably, it isn’t. At some point, the kids are going to team up with Jason or a Predator is going to befriend a scientist or something dumb like that. As long as the monsters are true to themselves, any “Versus” scenario can be a ton of fun. Adam Hughes’ Betty & Veronica is a “Versus” story in everything but name, so any assessment of the first issue comes down to the question: does he stay true to the fundamental nature of his monsters? Depends on what you think that nature is. Continue reading

Archie 9

Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Archie 9, originally released June 22nd, 2016.

Ryan: This last week, I helped my mother clean out her garage. To be fair, most of my help came in the form of going through boxes of my childhood things and deciding what was to go to Goodwill. There was an Archie Comics digest in almost every box. At this point, I’ve probably read more pages of Archie than any other book. I also found a Burger King Toy with Veronica in a convertible and my Gumby-style Betty doll. There was no Archie figurine in my things. That’s for a simple reason; I think he’s kind of a jerk. It’s not that he’s a bad guy, but he has never been my favorite. I love the rivalry/friendship between Betty and Veronica, but the love triangle element was never that interesting to me. Mainly because his unwillingness to choose between Betty and Veronica made him a compassion-free cad and turned them into doormats. Mark Waid and Veronica Fish present my favorite version of Archie, because they treat him and every other character in the story with empathy and humanity. In Archie 9, both the central conflict and the love triangle develop in a world where everyone is doing their best and there are no villains. Continue reading

Afterlife With Archie 9

afterlife with archie 9

Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Afterlife With Archie 9, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Taylor: At the beginning of Afterlife With Archie, Reggie says, “everyone is the hero of their own life story.” This is an old saying that certainly has some truth to it; the world as any individual conceives it, necessarily revolves around themselves. This is a powerful idea and it speaks to the nature of how persuasive solipsistic thinking can be. However, after stating this, Reggie imagines himself saving the day by leading some horses back to the survivors of the Riverdale zombie outbreak. The message seems to be that not only are we the center of our own stories, but we are also always the good guy in our personal narrative. But Reggie doesn’t see himself as the good guy in his own life story, he sees himself as the bad guy.

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5

Alternating Currents: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5, Drew and Ryan M.

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5, originally released May 18, 2016.

…he says that it was a spree, you know? A drifter or “gang of drifters.” You know, like it’s 1942. Like, uh, drifters are a national threat…

Deputy Molly Solverson, Fargo

Drew: That quote isn’t going to make a ton of sense to folks who haven’t seen season 1 of Fargo, but for me, it perfectly illustrates the tension between genre and setting that I’ve come to absolutely love about that series. David Lynch is the undisputed master of this kind of tension, exploiting it to idiosynchratic heights in Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, but for me, Fargo twists the knife a little further by making the characters explicitly aware of this incongruity. It’s not just about the seedy crime underworld of the seemingly innocent midwest, it’s about how nobody within that setting could conceive of something so dark happening there — they basically believe they’re living in a caricature of 1942.

Archie Comics is notorious for representing a similar caricature of mid-20th-century high-school, which is exactly what writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has played against in Archie’s horror line. That tension carries Afterlife With Archie, which largely plays its genre straight, but is complicated much more in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which freely mixes its 1960s teen comic setting with its modern horror sensibilities, playing those elements off each other in unexpected ways. It’s both genres and neither of those genres, giving it an unpredictability that may just be more vital than anything Lynch or the Coen brothers could cook up. Continue reading

Archie 6

Alternating Currents: Archie 6, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Archie 6, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Drew: My biggest frustration in dealing with teens is their lack of perspective. That’s probably my biggest frustration in dealing with adults, too, but teens are notorious for blowing things out of proportion. That tendency is exactly what makes teen dramas so volatile — everything is high-stakes for teens — but it’s easy for that volatility to alienate adult readers who know this could all be resolved if any of the characters just sat down to talk with one another. It’s important, then, to occasionally re-ground the stakes in a teen drama, giving readers of any age a relatable touchstone in between the more elaborate flights of fancy. That’s exactly what we get in Archie 6, as a miniature health emergency reminds everyone of what’s really important. Continue reading

Jughead 3

Today, Ryan and Spencer are discussing Jughead 3, originally released December 30th, 2015.

Ryan M.: My name lends itself to nicknames. Since both my first and last names are easily shorted and morphed, I’ve never had the sort of nickname that doesn’t sound like my name. In middle school, I tried to get people to call me “R Money” but as we all know, you can’t give yourself a nickname. Jughead Jones does not go by a derivative of his birth name, so when the first page of Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson’s Jughead 3 ends with someone calling him Forsythe, you can tell things are not right in Riverdale. Continue reading