ADVANCE REVIEW! Archie Double Digest #220 will come out on July 13, 2011.
Most of the stories in Archie Double Digest #220 revolve around vacation time activities such as hitting the beach, camping, fishing, summer jobs, or just kicking back and relaxing. It’s really amazing how the different writers and artists take the same basic scenario, using the same characters, and come up with so many variations on a theme. For instance, there are three stories featuring Archie and Veronica at the beach: Mike Pellowski’s “Ice Cream Scream,” Shultz’s “All Washed Up” and Crosby’s “The Best Spot on the Beach!” In the first, Archie runs into problems while trying to procure ice cream for Veronica. In the second, Ronnie tries to keep Archie from finding out she’s on two dates at once, and in the third, Archie and Veronica disagree about where to sit. One setting, three different writers and art teams bringing their own personal touch to the subject.
While the newer stories are uniformly enjoyable, Pellowski’s “Hooked” stands out for me. Pencilled by Bob Bolling, with inks by Bob Smith, letters by Jack Morelli, and colors by Barry Grossman, it’s a simple little story that takes on the allure of fishing and unthinking sexism with charm and heart. The elderly man who believes Betty isn’t interested in fishing isn’t evil, he’s just from a different era. The respectful, but firm, way in which Archie enlightens him shows the red-head at his best. Bolling subtly shows the difference between preconceptions and reality by drawing Betty differently depending on the viewpoint. The elderly man’s vision of Betty is more kittenish and coquettish, more like the late ’40s/early ’50s version of the character. Archie sees her as attractive, athletic, and capable. This well-done story is possibly the gem of the issue.
Another charming fish tale is Taylor, Lapick, and Yoshida’s “The Magic Fish.” When Little Sabrina and the gang catch a magic fish, it’s time for wishes galore. There’s a bit of a “Be careful what you wish for” moral, as well as “You get what you deserve,” but overall this is just a fun story. The art is a bit odd. The characters have almost ugly expressions at times, but that’s a minor quibble.
Continuing to celebration their 70 years in the comics business, Archie presents three classic “Wilbur” stories by Joe Edwards, featuring Wilbur, Linda, and Laurie. These are beautifully drawn. The art is dynamic, expressive, and sharp. It’s fun just to look at. As for the stories, Wilbur is basically a blond Archie with Linda and Laurie being the rivals for his affection, but again, it’s a case of a writer taking classic situations and putting his own spin on it.
If you’re looking for a place to jump into the Archieverse or want to renew auld acquaintance after years away, this is the digest for you.