Current Reviews


Tales from Riverdale Digest #21

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2007
By: Penny Kenny

“Öut-Raj-ous Behavior”

Writer/Artist: Fernando Ruiz

Publisher: Archie Comics

There’s a new doctor in Riverdale, Dr. Ravi Patel, and he happens to have a son who’s just Archie’s age. Raj likes SF movies, making models, and making movies. And he’s just as impulsive as Archie.

The title is something of a misnomer. It’s a cute pun on the character’s name, but he never really does anything that outrageous. “Out-Raj-ous Behavior” is your basic introduction of a new character story, and it performs its function very well. Kudos to Fernando Ruiz for using aspiring film-maker Raj’s movie to introduce us to his family. It lets us see both Raj’s character and theirs. Then there’s just enough time for a quick lesson on making clay models and an ending gag and we’re done. It’s a fun ten-pager that promises good things to come.

With Raj, Ruiz has created a character that should play off the Archie regulars very well. His film work is sure to capture the interest of Veronica, Reggie, and Cheryl, while his interest in SF could link him up with Chuck and Veronica’s cousin, Marcy. Meanwhile, Raj’s brilliant sister Tina could hang with Dilton or maybe capture Reggie’s interest. Or if Ruiz really wants to mix things up, Tina could give Midge a run for Moose’s attention – playing with the old opposites attract saw. If the mark of a good story is the number of ideas it sparks, “Out-Raj-ous Behavior” definitely qualifies as good. I’m obviously looking forward to seeing more of these characters in the future.

Ruiz has given Raj a perky appearance. He’s a bit slighter than most of Riverdale’s males. He actually looks a bit younger than Archie, though Archie looks somewhat younger than normal too. Raj’s lively, optimistic personality is portrayed as much through his wardrobe, bedroom, and expressive face as it is through his words. The various models on display in his room tell readers just what kind of kid Raj is. You have to give Ruiz and D’Agostino credit for a nice piece of character and world building there. Without being too obvious or obtrusive, they tell us what we need to know.

As for the rest of the family, the background details aren’t there for them, but they do look good. Dr. Patel is along the Mr. Lodge model, only younger and Indian. Mona Petal, meanwhile, is a lovely, elegant looking lady – who apparently has the ability to change clothes between panels. It’s a small error that doesn’t detract from the story, but it is rather surprising when you consider the care taken with the other panels. Younger sister Tina is an Indian Veronica and judging by her body language in the few panels she appears in, she shares more than looks with that beauty.

As always, there’s a nice variety of reprints backing up the main feature. “What a Catch” is a light piece that’s amusing nonetheless. Veronica attends a baseball game with her father and catches quite the souvenir. There’s some fun wordplay and the payoff gag is cute and very Veronica. But my favorite of the reprints is “Boot Camp Lodge.” While her parents are away, Veronica’s Aunt Tessie, an ex-military woman, stays with her. You can guess the gang isn’t exactly thrilled with Tessie’s regime, but they’re powerless against her. The ending comes a bit out of left field, but it’s still cute.

If you’re a collector seeking first appearances of characters or just looking for a pleasant afternoon’s read, make sure to pick this issue up.

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!