I’d say that Craig Boldman was about one sentence away from having a note perfect issue of Archie, with last week’s Archie #581, which is impressive as all heck, because, as with most Archie issues, Boldman was writing FOUR separate short stories, so the odds of all four of them being good are against him, and yet he almost pulled it off, if not for the lack of a sentence.
The opening story is where Boldman lost me. Throughout the book, he is ably assisted on art by Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith (Smith can ink anyone! He is a great inker). Here are some sample pages:
Boldman’s nice set-up is that Archie has finally actually remembered his anniversary, but Veronica hates the gift he got, so he has a choice – take the credit for the anniversary or take the blame for getting her a bad gift?
It’s an interesting idea by Boldman, but what ruins the story for me is that he has Veronica come in and guess what the gift is – out of nowhere! Archie says that he can prove that he remembered (after he originally plays dumb when she asks him about the day), so she says, “This should be good! The one and only time you remembered, you got me the worst gift in the world. A stupid lamp that looks like a stupid turtle!”
That makes no sense! Why would Veronica say that? I could see it if she said something like, “This should be good! The one and only time you remembered, and I bet you got me something stupid, like a lamp that looks like a stupid turtle!” or something like that – that would be pushing it, but at least it would be a guess – he has her talking like she KNOWS what Archie bought, but there’s no way she would know that, right?
It really reads like there’s a missing sentence somewhere, like if Archie mentioned the lamp beforehand, but he didn’t, and because of that, I think the whole story falls apart a bit, even though the basic concept is clever.
The next story is a cute take on modern art, which I especially loved because Boldman does not come right out and totally MOCK modern art, which is usually the standard thing when modern art comes up in comedy.
In the story, an artist is tired of his old work (mostly standard landscapes), so in a fit, he throws some paint at one of his paintings, and he likes the effect – a mix of old and new. So he does it to all of his work, and his work begins to get a new buzz to it.
Eventually, the Lodges are asked to hold a showing, but when Mr. Lodge sees the painting before the show, he thinks that Archie (who had spilled some paint earlier in the story) has ruined all the paintings, so Lodge tries to “fix” them!
The third story is a nice reversal tale, where Veronica plans to blow off Archie because her father wants her to take a client’s son out. Archie is steaming mad, and goes to confront her, before we learn that Mr. Lodge jumped the gun a bit on who the client’s kid was…
Another cute story.
The final tale, though, is by far the best of the issue. In it, the gang are reading various magazines that Pop Tate put out to make their eating experience more fun. Archie learns about kleptomania, while Betty reads a magazine that tells how to put a little flair into your relationship. Their respective reading combines in a most hilarious way – one of the funniest Archie stories I can recall offhand.
Very good work.
Overall, I would recommend the issue, but if that first story could be fixed, this entire issue would be a total winner, which is a rarity when you’re dealing with four short stories by a single writer.
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