I know I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but I can’t help but compare Michael Uslan’s “Archie Marries _____” six-part series against the recent “New Look” Archie stories. I can’t help myself because both comics seem to be designed as “lures” to bring a new crowd in to give Archie comics a try.
So while I have not enjoyed Melanie Morgan’s “New Look” series of comics (I think her writing style seems to work better for tween novels than for comics) all that much (even while the art on some of them have been quite good – especially Norm Breyfogle’s current storyline), I think Michael Uslan does a nice job with Archie #600.
The story opens a bit oddly, only because it is the final gig of The Archies at Riverdale High. So while it can be assumed that this is set in the future, that’s not made clear, exactly, so I found that a bit odd.
Otherwise, though, Uslan uses a cute, “It’s A Wonderful Life”-esque plot device to get Archie four years into the future, as everyone is graduating from “State University” (famous alums include Reed Richards and Ben Grimm).
Uslan does a very nice job finding each character’s “voice” in the future, but what’s most impressive to me is how much he’s willing to have the character’s make what is pretty clearly the wrong choice.
Really, it’s admirable to see just how wrong Uslan shows Archie’s decision to propose to Veronica is. Forget the whole “he should be with Betty” part of the equation, Uslan’s just showing us that Archie is making an ill-informed (fairly juvenile really) stab at adding some normalcy to his life. Everyone else has moved on, so shouldn’t Archie? That’s what he thinks and so he does what he thinks you do when you “move on.”
It’s pretty strong stuff for an Imaginary Story, but really, I think Uslan is just calling back to the stories he knows well from the past, like the great Imaginary Stories of DC Comics, which used the freedom of the Imaginary Story to tell some fairly mature stories for their era.
I do wonder if he’ll use a similar approach in #603-605, which will be an Imaginary Story where Archie proposes to Betty instead. It seems, so far, that this marriage is not headed in the right direction – I wonder if he’d use that same approach with a Betty marriage?
Stan Goldberg’s pencils are a bit loose at times (and really, what an non-dynamic cover for such a major issue), but he’s really the closest Archie Comics has right now to Dan DeCarlo, so he was a good pick to do the art. I don’t think he hurt the story at all (Bob Smith does a nice job on inks because, as I mentioned, DeCarlo’s pencils were loose at times).
So yeah, for an issue meant to bring new audiences to the book, I think it would have a good chance of hooking them!