Current Reviews


Archie & Friends #113

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2007
By: Penny Kenny

“Dangerous Curves”

Writer: Mike Pellowski
Artist(s): Stan Goldberg, Bob Smith (i), Barry Grossman (c), Jack Morelli (l)

Reaching out to NASCAR fans and readers who want an adrenaline rush when reading, Archie & Friends has been running a semi-regular series featuring Betty driving for the Lodge Industries’ racing team. The latest installment, “Dangerous Curves,” is also the best to date, with Betty facing off against C.B. Quick, the driver for Lodge Industries’ main competitor.

Scripter Mike Pellowski doesn’t shrink from showing the sport’s inherent danger, leading to some exceptionally dramatic moments. One scene in particular will stand out for readers, not only because it sets-up the next storyline, but because the script, pacing, and art combine to get the full drama out of a literal life and death moment. While he doesn’t mine it to the extent that he could, Pellowski still provides readers with an unusually mature twist to the tale.

Of course, there’s also humor. C.B. makes a cute pun on her name and readers get a quick Spanish lesson out of it. There’s also a bit of one-sided romance as Veronica drools over racer Speedy Spencer.

Goldberg and company handle the racing scenes very well. The cars are clearly identified so readers can easily follow the action and a variety of angles and distance shots are used to create the feeling of movement. The sound effects, individualized by size, style, and color, are integrated into the scene, adding to the effect. What could have been a series of static panels instead has a very animated look. On the character front, Mr. Lodge sports an appealing semi-casual look that makes him stand out from the crowd. In some panels he almost looks like he’s been modeled on an older Cary Grant.

“Monsterama Drama” featuring Chuck and Nancy is the issue’s second feature. George Gladir’s script has Nancy in a snit because Chuck’s new comic book features monsters with Goth elements. Her argument is that her Goth friends will take offense. His is that he’s taking artistic license. If you think about it, it’s a light look at political correctness. Gladir doesn’t preach on the subject, he merely ends the tale with a cute gag and leaves it up to readers to decide where to draw the line.

The black and white format of Chuck’s “Monster High” comic within a comic is striking, showing off Goldberg and Smith’s art in a way readers don’t usually get to see. The basic layout encourages readers to check out the highly detailed backgrounds and admire Bob Smith’s inks.

Still, as much as this story has going for it, I’d really like to see a good Nancy and Chuck story that shows why they’re a couple. Mostly all they do is disagree – usually over minor things. Wouldn’t it be nice to see them get the “Bad Boy Trouble” treatment and have some depth added to their relationship?

Albano, Ruiz, and Milgrom’s “Present for the Resident” is a cute one-pager that provokes a chuckle or two. This gag is actually a textbook example of how to visually tell a joke. Ruiz takes the traditional grid format and with just a few simple changes of pose and viewpoint makes the punchline funnier than it should be.

The issue concludes with Mr. Weatherbee in “The Ringer!” With the school’s bell system out, the Bee must come up with a substitute method of getting the students to class. Craig Boldman’s clever script allows Stan Goldberg to play with expression and stage some nice slapstick scenes. The variety in backgrounds and panel size, shape, and arrangement give the story a fresh look and feel.

Archie & Friends #113 might not race off the racks, but it is a fun book to spend some time with.

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