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Archie & Friends #130

Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009
By: Penny Kenny

Stephen Oswald
Bill Galvan, Al Milgrom (i), Glenn Whitmore (c), Jack Morelli (l)
Archie Comics
"Zero to Rock Hero" (part 1)

When Veronica hires Josie and the Pussycats to entertain at one of her father’s big event parties, the fur really flies as the Cats and the Archies to go head to head on the “Legendary Rock Heroes” video game.

Stephen Oswald takes the simple premise of band against band and runs with it, creating an enjoyable story that has some wonderful character moments, great dialogue, and fun “wink, winks” at the reader.

Because this is a 22 page, “To Be Continued” storyline, Oswald has the time and space to develop the story and characters. He doesn’t waste the opportunity. His Veronica is just what she should be. While lines like “It would be great to hire our band The Archies, but then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy all the fruits of my labors! I’d be stuck on stage all night!” remind readers that she’s all about Veronica and manipulation, other scenes show the heiress as hard-working, intelligent, and even generous.

Two supporting characters that get some wonderful panel time are Reggie and the Pussycat’s manager Alexander Cabot. When these two giant egos collide, the sparks fly off the page. Being so much alike, they know exactly what will annoy the other the most. I really look forward to seeing more interaction between these two in the next installment.

Oswald peppers the story with fun lines, beginning with an opening narration caption that harkens back to the '60s Batman TV show. Veronica’s "punny" description of the staff’s rivalry and Reggie’s "Best" speech are also amusing. The latter mainly because it reminds me of a similar line from Julius Lester’s Sam and the Tigers. It immediately conjures a vision in my mind of Reggie and Alexander as two tigers about to throw down.

Bill Galvan does some nice work here. The four panel sequence depicting Archie and a party guest landing in a pond is especially notable. Every misstep is clearly visible. Though I do think Archie is turned the wrong way in one panel in relation to what would really happen, it does makes for a more dramatic and funny scene. Looking closely, all the party mishaps featuring the Archies are very similar to scenes from Marx Brothers’ movies. The panel showing Reggie chasing an actress is very reminiscent of Harpo chasing blonde maids. Or maybe Galvan was going for a remake of the Benny Hill Show opening. Either way there’s a nice sense of movement in these panels that emphasizes the physical comedy aspect of the characters.

Other standout pages are the ones showing the teens playing “Legendary Rock Heroes.” One of these is a full page montage. The individual scenes are separated and framed by a flowing music staff that leads the eye to where the artist wants it to go. The composition is nicely balanced between group and individual images and has a Grease-/High School Musical poster feel to it.

Glenn Whitmore’s colors are just right--not too bright and not too dark. As always, he does an absolutely beautiful job highlighting the characters. For example, on the opening pages Veronica and her father are in the kitchen discussing the party. Sunlight is coming through the windows, creating a yellow-white shadow on their faces. This gives the characters a fuller, more three-dimensional look.

"Zero to Rock Hero" won’t ever be a classic story, but it is an enjoyable one.



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