Interesting week from Archie Comics, so here's my thoughts on Archie Digest #236 (celebrating Archie's 65th Anniversary), Sabrina the Teenage Witch #86 and Betty & Veronica Double Digest #153 (the third part of "Bad Boy Trouble").
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #86
In the past, I've been impressed with how writer/artist Tania Del Rio was able to keep progressing the plot in this comic without progressing it TOO much, and taking us out of the story. She continues that strong work with this issue, although, while I enjoy the PLOT, the actual execution left a bit to be desired.
The issue examined Sabrina and Harvey's relationship, and Del Rio gives us a good reason for why Harvey is so freakin' weird in the comic, by showing us that his mother is a total bee-yotch. This is where Del Rio lost me a bit, though. The idea of Harvey and Sabrina falling apart (as Sabrina works better as a character if she is single) is a good one, and having it be not really Harvey's FAULT, so we can't hate Harvey, is also a good one. But his mother is just sooo over-the-top with her jerkiness that it just doesn't read well. It would be cooler if his mother's points were more reasonable, so Harvey following her lead would be more explainable.
Then again, perhaps Del Rio felt her point would have been lost if she didn't go over-the-top? I dunno.
Either way, it didn't read well. The rest of the issue (they travel to visit Harvey's grandparents, who own an Alpaca farm) was cute, and the advancement of the Four Blades plotline was good, as well. Del Rio has a good feel for characterization with Sabrina. It's a real treat to read.
And her art is fun, too (good inks by Jim Amash).
So, overall, hmmm...the mother part is a huge demerit. But I think overall, I would still say...
Archie Digest #236
This was a neat comic book, as it reprinted Archie's original first appearance, plus the ENTIRE Archie Comics #1, including the funny animal backups by the late, great Joe Edwards! Awesomerageous!!
Fernando Ruiz does an nice job with the new story, in which 2007 Archie meets 1942 Archie (who likes to be called...snicker...Chic).
The old stories are pretty good, if a bit generic.
However, the Edwards funny animals stories are quite good, and there's one really good Archie story set at Christmas time that I am surprised we haven't seen reprinted in one of the Archie Christmas collection - I guess because the female leads are not Betty or Veronica, but twins who never showed up again.
I was a bit put off by Jeffrey Branch's intro article which read a BIT too much like Archie Comics propaganda than an actual historical analysis for my tastes.
Overall, though, for a comic history standpoint, and just a fun comic read, this digest is well worth it.
Betty & Veronica Double Digest #153
Bad Boy Trouble is still not GOOD, per se, but Melanie K. Morgan really did a MUCH better job with this third installment than the previous two, and it was almost enjoyable, except there really was no plot progression, which is pretty bad with it being the third part out of a FOUR part story!!
Steven Butler continues to do a good job on the male characters in the comic, and even draws a neat ACTION SCENE in the issue, as part of the plot involves Archie and "bad boy" Nick boxing!
That's probably the cleverest thing Morgan has done yet, and it's not particularly clever, but I guess I am grasping at straws for her - as her previous two installments were quite weak.
There was a silly error in the comic when Coach Clayton breaks up Archie and Nick fighting, and Nick says "Keep out of this, Tangerine-top!"
I mean, it's a silly line PERIOD, but even sillier as it comes out as thought it is directed at Coach Clayton, who is black. Just bizarre.
In the issue, though, we get to see Nick actually be a realistic "bad boy," which was nice. And the stuff with Betty looking out for Veronica while letting her use her as an excuse (she tells her Dad she is staying at Betty's while she is really on a date with NicK) is good, if bland, stuff.
Also, I recently critiqued an Archie comic for not showing a character in an earlier panel, and thereby hurting the cause and effect (as the character reacted to something we did not see him actually observe). There is a scene like that in this issue that Butler DOES make sure to include the character in an earlier panel in the background, thereby establishing cause and effect quite well.
The issue as a whole, though, while a big improvement, still isn't that good.