From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.112: Everything Is Archie
Hey gang and welcome back to another edition of your weekly column for all-ages comic book coolness, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Every week in this column I try to cover a nice variety for you guys looking for all-age stuff out there. Sometimes I’m sent a bunch of titles to review, and sometimes I mix in some of my favorite bits I’ve come across. It dawned on me a few weeks back that I haven’t had a chance to cover too many Archie Comics titles lately, and so I decided this week I’d do a special column focused all on Archie titles that have come out in the past three weeks! Let’s get down to it!
New Crusaders is the best Archie title this year. If you have the New Crusaders App, every week you are treated to a new installment, plus a huge amount of back issues. If you don’t have it, the digital issues have been available through things like Archie Comics App, and the first issue in print just came out this week. No matter which way you read it, it’s a great title.
For those of you reading it digitally, the story has been moving at its own pace building the main characters. By the end of the chapters that make up issue 4, we find our teenagers have finally all overcome their own challenges, and have accepted their destiny so-to-speak as superheroes. Greg has taken on the role of the Comet, Alex has taken on the role of Fireball, Johnny the role of Steel Sterling, Kelly the role of Fly Girl, Ivette the role of the Jaguar, and Wyatt the role of the Web. Together led by the Shield, they are the New Crusaders. The ride has been great, and at this point the reader just wants some action, which as of the starting chapter of issue 5 shows us this week, is finally underway as the New Crusaders go to put down a jail riot started by the Brain Emperor.
The writing by Flynn, although maybe slow by some folks’ standards since the formation and powers of the team were stretched over 4 issues, feels organic with nothing rushed, and if anything gave us time to get to know these teens while being entertaining along the way, and starting to develop the reader’s connection with them. Artist Martinez, who took over art duties starting with issue #3, has been doing great stuff on the title, especially in scenes where Ivette had to confront the jaguar-demon in the mask to gain its powers.
For superheroes, New Crusaders is where it’s at. The App is getting better for its dollar a week, and has a great back issue selection to read as long as you have a subscription. Also, last week they started the title Lost Crusade, which is pretty great, too; check out our review here.
Archie has had a pretty good run thus far this year. They had a cross over with rock band Kiss. We saw Archie’s married life to Valerie from Josie and the Pussy Cats. The Riverdale gang even Occupied their park last year to stand against the 1-percent. So what would they do this issue? Switch everyone’s genders, of course!
Sabrina is going to Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe one day when Reggie doesn’t hold the door for her, prompting her cat Salem to get a little fed up with how rude guys have become these days. For his own amusement and to teach everyone a lesson, Salem casts a spell overnight, swapping the genders of everyone in Riverdale, changing it into Reverse-dale! Archie becomes Archina, Reggie to Regina, Veronica to Ron, Betty to Billy, even Josie and the Pussy Cats to Joey and the Junkyard Dogs! Salem and Sabrina watch the antics unfold as the boys compete for Archina’s heart, before changing the spell back.
Issue 636 was a fun done-in-one issue for the Archie gang, and still great to see them trying some different stuff to mix it up in this title. Little touches like this have helped give Archie its best year in decades, and I hope they keep the momentum going. Gisele’s art was stellar on this one, as it was also on issue 635, and I hope this artist stays on the title and doesn’t go anywhere, because it’s the best looking of the Archie-gang titles right now. Also I hope fans dug this issue, because I wouldn’t mind seeing another Reverse-dale issue, mini, or perhaps Life With Archina.
Issue 636 is out now, both in print and digitally.
So after Life With Archie hit the conclusion of its first major story arc earlier this year where ((((((spolier alert)))))) the two time lines finally overlapped as was hinted at since issue #1, life has setteled down on the two different time lines, and honestly the steam with this title has slowed down a little bit. It’s cool to introduce Kevin Keller and his husband into the mix, but things haven’t been as epic these days. The editors must have sensed it, because issue #22 tries to boost the title with a little adrenaline shot.
On the Archie Marries Veronica time line, everything is going well for folks in Riverdale it seems. Archie and Veronica are not getting divorced and are getting back together, Jughead is split from Midge but seeing Ethel, and Reggie and Betty are dealing with their own reality show. However, Dr. Clay Walker, husband of Kevin, is having trouble with his new patients in Riverdale, possibly because he is gay. As fate would have it, though, Jo’s gas station is being held up, and Clay is the only one around which leads him to be shot! Will he make it? We’ll be finding out! On the Archie Marries Betty time line, everything seems to be going well for the gang, as well. Archie is happy teaching music, Jughead is with Midge on this time line and she’s pregnant, etc. The big surprise here is that Cheryl Blossom the former teen-queen, who was the only girl who could steal Archie away from both Betty and Veronica, has returned home, struck with cancer and going through treatment. Gone are her curves and looks. She is now bald, drawing in her eyebrows and keeping her chin up through treatment. Most of the story revolves around Cheryl’s coming home party and revealing to the Riverdale gang her struggles.
Overall, issue 22 is the best issue in a few months, and may be a sign things are looking up for this title again, although not looking up for any of these characters. Although I’m not a fan of drastic measures (you can’t keep killing Superman, right?), unless they are going to change the stories from Marries Betty and Marries Veronica, to Marries Valerie and Marries Cheryl, there’s not many directions we can going with these two tales except putting the characters in situations like getting shot to keep things fresh.
Issue 22 of Life With Archie is a solid issue and a new turning point for the series, but if the series goes up or down from here, only the next few months will tell. Available now in print and digital.
That’s it for this week, see you next! Until then, get your kaiju-game on!