You really have to admire the way Archie Comics advertises itself on the beautiful Ruiz cover of this digest. You can clearly see the current comics and graphic novels Archie Comics has available and they even work their e-editions in. But it's not in your face advertising. Taken at a glance it's just a cute scene featuring kids and teens enjoying themselves reading comics.
Inside, readers get a taste of why Archie Comics has had so many fans over the years. It offers stories in a variety of genres, featuring a likable cast with fairly consistent characterization. If you're looking for slice of life stories, there's Paul Kupperberg's "The Big Ditch," in which Jughead decides to teach Archie a lesson.
Or try Frank Doyle's "Footnote to Confusion." In this one Archie's twosome with Veronica ends up with a third — Betty. If you'd prefer a story of families and Christmas, Bob White has the sweet, but not sappy, "The Christmas Blues."
Sports your thing? There's George Gladir's "The Big Turnaround," with Archie figuring out how to keep Moose focused on the big football game. For hockey fans Mike Pellowski puts Archie on the ice in "Injury Report." Archie and Reggie compete on sleds in Fernando Ruiz's "Snow Buddies' Business!"
Maybe you're in the mood for a mystery. "The Figure in the Fog" by Frank Doyle is an atmospheric tale rife with private eyes, kidnappings and double crosses. If you're looking for a bit of magic, Little Sabrina has it covered in Dexter Taylor's "One Two Many," a story of dual Jugheads.
If slapstick antics are more your speed, Mike Pellowski's "Going Batty" pits Mr. and Mrs. Andrews against a pesky bat.
All these stories, plus the many others in this issue, feature smart scripts and humor that ranges from the gentle to biting.
Art styles span from Dan DeCarlo and Henry Lucey's sleek, sophisticated stylings of Wilbur's "Double Trouble" and Archie's "The Doll" to the buck-toothed, kewpie doll Little Betty and Archie of "A Game of Danger." Bob Bolling exhibits a variety of styles in his own work, going from a weightier 50s style to a slimmer, more flexible style. Pat Kennedy's work has a naturalistic look to it, but still harkens back to the classic style with its glamour shots of Veronica.
While Pat's twin Tim gives the characters a sturdier, boxier build, he also creates a nice sense of movement in the panel.
With the new year coming up fast, this is the perfect time to branch out and try something new in your comic reading — something like Archie Double Digest #224.
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.