Current Reviews


Tales from Riverdale Digest #25

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
By: Penny Kenny

Writer(s): Fernando Ruiz & Various
Artist(s): Various

Publisher: Archie Comics

If you haven’t already picked up a copy of Tales from Riverdale Digest #25 run out now before they’re all sold out and buy enough to use as stocking stuffers for all your favorite people. This issue packs in a variety of tales sure to make even the most hardened Grinch smile, beginning with Fernando Ruiz’s “Denim”.

In an attempt to attract girls, Dilton tries to create synthetic pheromones similar to Reggie’s. Soon the mild-mannered genius is running about clad entirely in black and hitting on every attractive girl he sees.

Any reader who has sat through Spider-Man 3 will appreciate how spot-on this parody/homage is – and has my sympathies. While those who wisely didn’t bother with the movie will enjoy Ruiz’s brisk, clever story-telling for itself. Probably the best thing he does is refrain from stretching the characters in unbelievable ways to make this plot work – something DC and Marvel should take note of. Creating the “black goop” as Archie refers to it, is very characteristic of Dilton. His character is continually looking for ways to improve his social life through science. The solution to the “Denim” problem grows naturally out of both the situation and characters. That it almost directly mirrors that of the movie is just a bonus for fannish readers. While the story has a definite end, Ruiz leaves readers with a teaser that will have them looking forward to seeing “Denim 2”.

Ruiz’s art as inked by Jon D’Agostino has a tight look to it that’s less cartoony than some versions, while still allowing plenty of room for over-stated reactions. Check out Archie’s hair and Jughead’s hat to gauge their feelings at key moments. It’s cute without being obtrusive.

Continuing the strange and weird theme, this issue also offers readers a reprint of the first issue of Archie’s Weird Mysteries – one of the company’s more interesting experiments of the late ‘90s. Readers who missed the comics the first time round might still be familiar with the concept as it was a fairly well-done animated series for a time. The voices weren’t necessarily the ones I would have chosen, but it was a fun way to spend a half hour. Now younger readers get a chance to see where it all began.

“Just Another Day in Riverdale” centers on Archie searching for news for the school paper. At the same time, an accident with Professor Flutesnoot’s Hyper Sub-Molecular Quarknator leads to the mass arrival of monsters in Riverdale. Trouble is, no one believes Archie when he tries to tell them Riverdale is being invaded. Think it could be because everyone’s getting ready for the Horror themed dance and is expecting to see monsters?

The story reprinted beautifully. Rich, deep colors. Clean animation style-art. And an intelligent story. Readers couldn’t ask for more, though I wish the original credits had been reprinted too.

Of the short stories that fill out the rest of the digest, the most unexpected is “Hostess with the Mostest” featuring Ms. Beazly, the lunchroom lady. Her five page attempt to bring some class to the cafeteria both looks and reads like a Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett comedy skit. All that’s needed is the laugh track and readers will supply that on their own.

The final three stories “Worker Worries”, “Test Run”, and “Snow Joke” all use winter weather as a starting point and take off in different directions. “Snow Joke” is the most clever of the three. After Archie’s jalopy gets stuck in the Lodge driveway, Archie and Jughead come up with a unique way to move it. It’s a smart story idea and well-executed. Some unusually large panels and nice perspective shots give “Snow Joke” an especially sharp look.

Taken as a whole Tales from Riverdale Digest #25 makes a nice package for under any tree.

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