ADVANCE REVIEW! Jughead Double Digest #175 goes on sale Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Jughead Double Digest #175 opens strong with Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz's "Captain Hero vs. The Rampaging Rebound!" Is it any surprise that the co-creator of Robbie "Speedball" Baldwin and the creators of May "Spider-Girl" Parker offer up an athletic, bouncing villain to challenge Jughead's "Captain Hero" persona? Is it any surprise that this story combines the best of Archie and Marvel Comics? While this is an origin story of sorts, it's a classic style origin. A lot happens in it. In this 22 page story, we get science, magic, action, mystery, humor, romantic relationships and would-be romantic relationships, meta-commentary and inspiration.
One of my favorite things about this issue is that DeFalco handles Ethel with respect, showing that she's more than just a girl forever chasing Jughead. Dilton also has some good moments, as does Archie. DeFalco knows how to handle a large and varied cast, making them accessible to new readers without alienating fans. Frenz's art, inked by Al Milgrom, is kinetic. Characters break out of the panels and zip across the page.
While Ethel looks a bit too much like a chipmunk in certain panels for my taste, Dilton has rarely looked better. He has a bright-eyed, "everything can be made better by science" look to him. This is just a fun, smart, attractive looking superhero story. I really hope we'll see more of DeFalco and Frenz's work with these characters.
Jughead team extraordinaire Craig Boldman and Rex Lindsey are represented by several stories in this digest. Among them is "Pals and Paws," a wonderful tribute to the friendship between Jughead and his dog Hot Dog. The smart story has a clever twist ending that's highly enjoyable. In "Soda Jerk" Mr. Weatherbee assigns Jughead to assist school janitor Svenson with mixed results and in "Tis Better to Have Brushed and Flossed" Jughead develops romantic feelings for his dentist. My favorite Boldman-Lindsey collaboration this issue is, however, 'The Opinion Maker". When Jughead hears some girls calling Betty "nasty" and Veronica "sweet," he discovers an old nemesis making trouble and takes steps to right the situation. The art in these stories is clean and expressive. Jughead and the gang have an attractive, semi-realistic look to them. Lindsey also excels at physical action. In one panel, Mr. Weatherbee is hit by a stream of water. The angle of the action and the positioning of the body, as well as Jack Morelli's sound effects create a sense of sudden, unexpected movement. In another panel Mrs. Jones demonstrates her chokehold on her son. Again, through the judicious use of speed lines, character expression, and body position, you feel that you've just seen her grab Jughead, though in reality you're looking at a still panel.
Classic Jughead stories by George Gladir and Frank Doyle are also included in this issue. Gladir's "The Invader" and "The Great Food Race" showcase both Jughead's intelligence and love of food. Vigoda's art in the former is very attractive and energetic. His Jughead looks a bit like a young Elvis Presley. Schwartz is the artist for "The Great Food Race" and while his style is different than Vigoda's, it's no less appealing. Some panels have a noir film look to them. Schwartz frames specific objects or figures to create a sense of increasing tension. "Double Vision" is a The Prince and the Pauper-like tale told by Doyle and Stan Goldberg. This is a fun, attractive looking story.
"That Wilkin Boy" also makes an appearance in two amusing stories that center around Bingo's lack of athletic ability and how that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Jughead Double Digest #175 is a must have for readers looking for intelligent, entertaining stories that combine humor, action, and adventure.
For the past 13 years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine's unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.