Thursday, December 19, 2013

Archie Freshman Year, Book 2

Catching Up With Archie Week continues with a book that both looks forward and back, Archie Freshman Year, Book 2. I enjoyed the first volume in the series so much I came back for more.

The set-up by comic vets Batton Lash (of Wolff and Bird fame), Bill Galvan (creator of The Scrapyard Detectives), and Al Milgrom (co-creator of Firestorm and former editor at Marvel and DC) is to tell untold stories from the past about the Archie characters. In this book, we learn about why Jughead got his iconic S t-shirt and some more throw-away stories where Betty and Veronica make a YouTube movie for a radio contest, Reggie tries to hang out with older students, Chuck draws comic books, and new character Pencilneck G gets the gang involved in skateboarding and Jackass-style hi-jinks. Apart from the first story, this volume seemed more slight to me, not to say that the stories were not enjoyable. They just did not seem exceptional from regular Archie stories, only set in an earlier time period with some more contemporary references added.

Thinking about this book, and looking back at the rest of this week's offerings, it strikes me that as a whole Archie Comics are very much about the passage of time, looking at history, and dealing with change. That is not something I would have expected going into this week, and it might not be the grandest insight ever, but there it is. I might not always greet the conservative tenor of much of their books with open arms, but perhaps the willingness to grapple with issues of time and change are what have sustained the company for so long, as crops of new readers find stories that seem at once timeless but also very much interested in the passage of time and change to engage with.

Maybe I will get more insight into this matter tomorrow when I read about what I think is the most striking addition to the Archie cast: Kevin Keller.

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