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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Friday, August 21, 2009

Archie's Double Digest 200

It's an Archie kinda day, so I'm reviewing a trio of recent issues from that long-standing comics publisher.

Archie's Double Digest #200 [$3.99] presents the first chapter of another of the publisher's "New Look" serials: "Goodbye Forever." Archie's dad receives a promotion that will necessitate moving the family to another city. The story is written by Melanie J. Morgan with art by Norm Breyfogle. Though the writing is good and the art is excellent, I was somewhat disappointed in this first chapter for two reasons:

1) It's a plot device we've seen in countless Archie stories in the past. That's not in itself a bad thing, but it's gonna need a great twist to justify its ultimate 80-page length.

2) There's no humor to the story. Yes, a teenager having to leave all his friends is sad and, from a teen perspective, tragic. But comedy and tragedy can mix to good effect. It's what made M*A*S*H such an amazing television series.

I love that Archie is doing "New Look" stories while keeping their traditional look over all. But I think it's time for them to do more with them than they have been doing. If this story isn't part of the Archie "continuity," then why return to the status quo - if that what's planned - at its end? Archie moves and moves on. So do his friends. If their friendships are true, they won't fall away, even though their lives may take different directions. Just a thought.

There are a good many other stories in the issue as well. My favorites involve: shady sorts messing with swimming pools; the Archies trying to make a musical commercial; Principal Weatherbee trying to find some peace at the beach; a swimsuit photo shoot; and a sweet Little Archie tale in which the youngster makes his parents proud.

Archie's Double Digest #200 earns a solid four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Archie and Friends 133

Archie & Friends #132-133 [$2.50 each] headlines Arie Kaplan's "Archie Is History!" Drawn by Pat Kennedy (pencils) and Mark McKenna (inks), it's a fun adventure which finds the Riverdale High kids portraying historical figures at the Festival of Living History in Washington, D.C. Kaplan does a good job mixing history and humor. The art is solid throughout the two issues.

The story does suffer from being spread out over two issues with a weak cliffhanger at the end of the first. I'd have liked to seen it as a done-in-one giant-sized issue, not unlike the great Dennis the Menace vacation specials of my youth. Archie has been doing a lot of welcome "thinking outside the box" of late, but they should do more. I can't imagine any customers see the standard comic-book format as an attractive package or a good buy. More pages for the story and special features would've raised "Archie Is History" from a decent comic-book story to a cherished "keeper" that could entertain a young reader for hours.

Archie & Friends #132-133 earn three Tonys each.

Tony Tony Tony

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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