Artists: Stan Goldberg (p), Bob Smith (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Unless you’re Archie, and then your summer is something else. Two tales of “Archie on summer vacation” bookend this issue, and they’re the best of the four stories.
In the first one, “Bee on the Lookout” by Angelo Decesare, it’s the last day of school, and Jughead opens his locker to find Archie inside! You see, Archie has this theory. If he can go without seeing Principal Weatherbee for twenty-four hours, he’ll be ready for summer vacation. Meanwhile, Weatherbee is cowering under his desk waiting for all the students to leave because “It takes me twenty-four hours to recover from Archie! And then I’ll be ready for summer vacation!” With a set-up like that, you know what’s going to happen. And that’s the charm of the story. You know what’s going to happen, you’re just reading for the where and how. Because it’s only six pages, the set-up never has a chance to pall on the reader. I’ll admit, given the inherent Laurel and Hardy-ness of the situation, I would have liked to have seen a few more slapstick panels, but the story works fine just the way it is. Decesare’s little gem shows that despite their habit of bumping heads, Archie and the Bee are a lot alike. After reading this story, I don't think it's all that hard to imagine Archie taking over the reigns from Weatherbee someday.
“Summer Musings” is the second specifically summer story in the collection. In this one scripter George Gladir gives Archie a summer job. But not just any summer job. No, Archie is an intern for the Riverdale Bugle. Unfortunately, our luckless redhead has to report to work on the very day he was planning on hitting the beach. Them’s the breaks, Arch. Looks you like you can forget about swimsuit viewing. Or can you?
I’ll admit I was hoping for an Archie as “Jimmy Olsen, Mr. Action” type story after I read the initial set-up, but Gladir didn’t choose to go in that direction, and ultimately, I wasn’t disappointed. There’s a nice twist or two and the ending is absolutely Archie – though readers will be forgiven for wondering where Betty and Veronica are during all of this.
The other two stories are Mike Pellowski’s “Good Taste in Cars” and “Baby Talk.” The former is a perfectly logical extrapolation of what would happen if Pop Tate bought a hybrid SUV that runs on recycled cooking oil. The final page of this four-pager is the perfect pay-off gag and the reason it works so well is that it’s totally character centered. Pellowski knows his Archies and knows how to use them. This story will work best for readers familiar with the cast, but even someone new will get a chuckle out of it.
“Baby Talk” is a variation on a familiar story. Archie skips out on going to the park with Reggie and Chuck to check out girls in order to baby-sit. He takes baby for a stroll and -- well you can guess the rest. I’ve seen several versions of this story appear in Archie comics over the years, and you know what? I always like it. It’s cute. It’s not earth-shattering. Or outrageous. And it won’t ignite controversy in the blogosphere. It’s just a cute story that will bring a smile to your face.
And that really sums up the whole issue – a comic that brings a smile to your face.
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