So the holidays have drained you and the family. All of you just want to relax with something fun that doesn’t require too much effort. Archie & Friends Double Digest #11 is just the thing. It has tales of superheroes, weird mysteries, gifted janitors, comic teens and more. In other words, something for everyone.
The digest opens with the Frank Doyle-Bill Vigoda collaboration “Knack of Time.” This is a reprint from the time when Archie Comics was trying to do superheroes the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby Marvel Comics way. What you end up with is a kind of goofy story drawn in a dynamic, semi-realistic way. Archie and Reggie as Captain Pureheart and Evilheart respectively travel through time trying to foil the Time Wizard and save Veronica.
The script is full of jokes and has a light hearted feel. This works against the dramatic art, but it’s still an enjoyable entry-level time travel tale.
Paul Castiglia and Fernando Ruiz provide two highly enjoyable Weird Mystery reprints. In “Food for Thought…or Not” the focus is on Veronica as the heiress tracks down the reason for Riverdale’s sudden “brain freeze.” In “Let it Snow” Archie shares the story of how Jack Frost, Jill Wind and Spring Thaw make a little girl’s Christmas wish come true. Both stories have smart scripts. Castiglia has fun with the material, but never underestimates his audience. I particularly enjoyed the caption “This really smarts: Riverdale’s intelligence rate has dropped faster than the popularity of last week’s top boy band…” It succinctly tells what’s happening while having a chuckle at pop culture. Ruiz’s art is wonderful. It has the clean, flexible look of good TV animation. Veronica’s shocked expression as she declares “Ack! I’m the smartest person in Riverdale” is perfect and the trio of Jack, Jill and Spring is gorgeous.
Svenson the janitor takes the spotlight in Mike Pellowski and Stan Goldberg’s “C-7th.” It’s always good to see minor characters get a chance to shine and Pellowski does a great job of showing how smart and talented Svenson is, without violating anything readers already know about him. Goldberg’s art is attractive without being flashy. His use of body language for the characters is especially well-done. The cast all have very naturalistic poses.
Five “New Archies” stories, based on the short lived cartoon series, are also included in the digest.
The characters are in their late tweens-early teens and sport longer hair – except for Veronica, who has a short shag cut. Though the look is different, the stories feature typical school shenanigans like Reggie trying to get out of work and Jughead getting in trouble with Ms. Grundy.
There are plenty of other stories this issue as well as some puzzle pages, but you get the idea. Archie & Friends Double Digest #11 has a wide variety of entertaining stories for readers of all ages.
For the past 13 years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine’s unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.