Archive for Archie

The Doom that Came to Riverdale


Afterlife with Archie #6

I’d initially skipped this series, ’cause it seemed like it was going to be nothing more than a publicity stunt series, but the buzz has been excellent, and I finally picked up the first trade paperback of this series. If you don’t know anything about it, the general idea is that Jughead’s dog Hot Dog is killed, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch decides to resurrect the mutt by casting a spell from the Necronomicon. Of course, this goes badly, and Jughead ends up being Patient Zero for a zombie plague. It’s a wonderful series, dark and grim and genuinely horrifying in all the ways a classic Archie story is not.

In this latest issue, we learn what’s happened to Sabrina since the first issue. Her aunts had learned that she’d dabbled in forbidden magic and cast her into a dimensional limbo as punishment. Here, she sees herself as an inmate at a mental institution, fighting delusions of having magical powers. Her fellow inmates include a musician named Erich Zann and an artist named Richard Pickman, and her counselors include Dr. Lovecraft and Dr. Machen — which is a really bad sign for Sabrina. Of course, they’re in league with the Great Old Ones, and as relentlessly pessimistic as this series is, there’s not much hope for Sabrina to get a happy ending…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and story, with lots of gloriously creepy stuff going on, both before the camera and off in the background. As much as I’ve enjoyed the zombified terrors of the previous storyarc, I think it’d be really cool for the rest of the series to have to deal with the perils of the Archie Gang facing the mind-breaking horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.


The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1

The Zombie Priests — yeah, there are more than just one or two — are moving in to Lonely Street, and the Goon, Franky, and all their allies have to face them down or watch everything get destroyed. Wrapped around this story is a tale of a beautiful but sociopathic woman and the vengeful spirit of a man who commits suicide over her love.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see a nice long Goon tale again. Some nice new villains. An absolutely excellent showdown scene. Wondering how all of this is going to end up getting tied together, but I also know I’m probably going to love the final result.


Trees #3

Two little storyarcs in this issue, one focusing on Italy, where the tough-minded gangster girl is trying to track down the mysterious vanishing professor, and one in China, where the talented rural artist is told he must get over his fear of the big city and stop locking himself in his apartment.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, there’s actually a lot more to the stories here, but I’d really rather not spoil them. And yes, the entire issue is focused on people having conversations. It’s great to have interestingly talky comics from time to time, right?


Revival #22

Lots of little things going on — Lester Majak catches a ghost; Em discovers her new reviver boyfriend Rhodey mutilates himself for online sickos and has been filming the two of them when they have sex; Dana discovers the secret society behind the troubles in New York and even meets up with murderous reviver Anders Hine; Ramin gets hypnotized; and Sheriff Cypress discovers that his grandson may be in danger from a teabagging militia terrorist.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of stuff going on, and all of it held my interest, moved the story along, and deepened the mysteries surrounding the revivers.


Velvet #6

Knowing she’ll never discover who the mole inside ARC-7 while out of the country, Velvet secretly returns to London, collects a new cache of weapons, makes a few contacts, considers the likely suspects, and makes her move on the superspy headquarters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great espionage storytelling. Wonderful characters and dialogue, outstanding action, mysteries, and much, much more.

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Friday Night Fights: Archie Armageddon!

Okay, kids, it’s another Friday evening, and it’s time for us to get the weekend started in the most violent way possible, as long as the most violent way possible involves posting comic book panels on the Internet! That’s right, it’s time again for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Well, let’s just admit that I’m probably not going to win this week’s voting. I’m okay with that, ’cause this bit made me laugh like a loon when I read it a few weeks back. It’s from World of Archie Digest, the Free Comic Book Day comic from a few weeks back. This bit is from a story called “The Fly,” probably sometime in the mid-1950s, by Frank Doyle, Harry Lucey, and Marty Epp. Let’s watch the festivities, shall we?




And that’s how Archie Andrews stone-cold murdered Reggie Mantle with a textbook. Don’t tell me comics haven’t always been violent!

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Tears of a Clown


Hawkeye #10

Most of this issue focuses on a guy named Kazimierz Kasimierczak, a guy who grew up in a war-torn region of Europe, saw his whole family killed during various acts of war, and eventually grew up to be an assassin wearing whiteface clown makeup. And he’s on Hawkeye’s trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story with good art, good dialogue, and all the great stuff we expect from this series. I wish we knew if this guy had some sort of codename — it’s going to get very tiring if I have to type that name very often…


Worlds’ Finest #12

The new version of Desaad, an inhuman fanged monster, has shown up, and he’s disguised as Michael “Mr. Terrific” Holt. After the authorities try to arrest Huntress and Power Girl for attacking him, they make their escape, but Karen soon finds her business failing because of financial attacks and more destructive terrorist bombings. Can the heroes keep from losing everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice ramp-up in the mystery and danger for the heroes. A lot of the publicity about this issue has to deal with getting Power Girl back into her classic “boob window” costume, but it appears almost as an afterthought, which is probably a good way to do it. The new costume was really awful, though, and I hope we don’t see anything like it again.

And let’s take a very quick look at the comics I got for Free Comic Book Day:


World of Archie Digest

Almost 100 pages of Archie comics? Reprints both old and new? Archie takes the prize for the year’s best release for FCBD.


Mouse Guard/Rust

Archaia always puts out great stuff for FCBD — solid stories designed to preview upcoming comics and promote what’s already out there for new readers. Everything here was great fun to read, and the Cow Boy story in the middle even has some fun with the comic’s flip-book format.


Finding Gossamyr/The Stuff of Legend

Loved these a lot. Both are long-running stories, and the FCBD comic was able to both summarize the previous storyarcs and create new mini-stories that were fun to read.


R.I.P.D./True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys/Mass Effect

Ehh. Almost completely forgettable stuff. I’d been considering picking up the Killjoys series, but I’m questioning whether I really care that much about it now.


Marvel Infinity

Beyond forgettable. There were more of this comic than anything else on FCBD. The lead story was depressing and un-fun. The ’70s reprint was depressing and un-fun. The preview from “Endless Wartime” was more entertaining, but it was just a preview. Come on, Marvel — Free Comic Book Day is supposed to bring new readers in, not scare them off.

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2011

Well, everyone else is doing end-of-year best-of lists, so I reckon I will, too. What’s Newsweek magazine got that I ain’t got, right? I mean, the way magazine readership has been falling, there’s a decent chance that I’ve got more readers now. ZING! Oh, Newsweek, you know I kid ’cause I love.

Anyway, this is not a list of the very best of all comics. I haven’t read all comics. I haven’t even gotten close. This is my list of the comics I read that I enjoyed the most.

Also, I don’t think I could manage to say which of these is the best — so I’d rather just arrange them in alphabetical order.

So here we go: The 16 comics I enjoyed reading the most in 2011.

American Vampire

This series by Scott Snyder is still carrying the torch for serious vampiric horror with great characterization, boundless imagination, and really awesome bloodsuckers.

Atomic Robo

One of the best comics out there — this one packs in action, humor, and mindblowing science into something that is always fun. Fun cameos by the famous and infamous, and an incredibly cool lead character.

Avengers Academy

Thank goodness someone still remembers how to do a good teen comic. You can do teen angst without it turning into a bloodbath. This series combines a great concept with outstanding characterization.

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth

The most audaciously imaginative comic of the year, thanks to its seven-year-old writer. Loved the drama, loved the action, and laughed out loud at the humor.

Batgirl (pre-Reboot)

Stephanie Brown’s tenure as Batgirl was marked by great writing, excellent action, and a very strong sense of humor. Stephanie is still MIA in the new DC, unfortunately.

Batman comics by Scott Snyder

Whether it was on Detective Comics prior to the Reboot or on Batman afterwards, Snyder wrote some of the most engrossing tales of the Dark Knight.

Batman Inc.

Reading Grant Morrison’s Batman has been a treat for years, and it was fun to watch him create the new Batman megacorp.


J.H. Williams III’s writing has been fine, but his art is simply breathtaking. This was absolutely the most beautiful comic book on the stands in 2011.


Daredevil? I’ve never cared for Daredevil in my life. But this one is a blast. Writing and art are incredible. Humor, action, characterization — and again, fun. You can make a pretty good comic if you make it fun, ya know?

Dungeons & Dragons

Did anyone ever expect a D&D comic to be this good? Excellent dialogue, humor, action, drama, suspense — all while doing a pretty good job spotlighting the RPG it’s based on. Best fantasy comic of the year, right here.

Hellboy: The Fury

Mike Mignola has enjoyed another excellent year of comics, and I could’ve put almost any of his B.P.R.D. comics in here, but this one — Hellboy’s last hurrah — was really something special.

Knight and Squire

Paul Cornell’s miniseries focusing on London’s version of Batman and Robin was fun storytelling, along with a quick course in British pop culture. Excellent characters and adventures, and a wonderfully created setting.

Secret Six

Gail Simone’s awesomely epic series of supervillains occasionally doing the right thing had some of the funniest, saddest, most dramatic, most astounding moments in the comics world. Absolutely grand characters, too. Losing this series was one of DC’s biggest mistakes of the Reboot.

Supergirl (pre-Reboot)

After years of being the DC Universe’s version of the useless mallrat in a belly shirt, several creators finally realized they could make the character awesome by treating her more like a real person instead of an MTV stereotype. Yes, DC, character is everything!

Tiny Titans

The best all-ages comic on the market. Still can’t believe they’re going to let something this awesome go.


One of the weirdest comics to come out this year. There was usually at least one really mind-blowingly weird thing in every single issue. Beautiful art, too, along with great writing and dialogue. It was a joy to read.

And one more little category? How ’bout Publisher of the Year? DC and Marvel are out — they’ve spent the past 12 months pandering to the worst in comics, cancelling great series, and randomly insulting their readers. IDW, Dark Horse, Red 5, Image, all the other independents came close, because they’re doing more of what good comics publishers should be doing — gunning for new readers, pushing the artistic and storytelling envelopes, making excellent comics.

But I think the Publisher of the Year is Archie Comics. What? But I don’t read any Archies! But Archie is doing even more than the other independents to push the creative and social envelope. They’ve gotten lots of publicity with their Archie marries Betty/Veronica comics, but they also had a great crossover with the Tiny Titans. And who would have ever imagined that staid, conservative Archie Comics would end up being the most progressive comics publisher — whitebread Archie Andrews has recently dated Valerie Brown, the African-American bass player from Josie and the Pussycats, and Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character, has become more popular and more prominent in the comics. Archie Comics is outpacing all the other independent publishers and rocketing past the Big Two in terms of how much they’re moving the comics industry forward.

So there we go — 16 grand, fun comics series. And I think I’d still have to declare 2011 one of the worst years for comics we’ve seen in a long time. Almost half my list is made up of comics that were cancelled, will be cancelled in the next few months, or are in continual danger of being cancelled. DC enjoyed a nice sales surge in the first few months of the Reboot, but the numbers on many of their series are already dropping back to more normal levels. And they spent months alienating and angering long-time fans in one public relations disaster after another. Not that Marvel has fared much better — they’ve been cancelling comics hand over fist. The independents have a better track record for producing good comics — but of course, they’ve also had more trouble getting those comics sold.

2011 has been an awful, terrifying, depressing year for comics fans. I’d like to tell you that I think 2012 is going to be better. But I don’t think I’d get my hopes up very high. No one’s learned any lessons from this year’s catastrophes, and I’m not even sure the Big Two are even capable of doing anything other than shooting themselves in the foot.

Let’s just hope the non-comics portions of 2012 will be better for all of us. Y’all stay safe, buckle up, call a cab if you need to.

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Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #9

Man, I love the cover art for this one. Great work, cover artist Ronan Cliquet!

This issue’s story is fairly simple: Nova has learned that there is an impostor hiding out in the Avengers, so while the rest of the team fight giant monsters, he and the Vision (and the Vision’s girlfriend) investigate everyone by sneaking into their rooms and digging around in their sock drawers. Superheroes are kinky.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously, it was a nicely tense story, even if I question some of the reasoning here — why would Nova pick the Vision as his investigating partner instead of Thor, who also knows about the impostor? Still, good fun, nice dialogue, another well-done issue.

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3

Raven and Sabrina hang out at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, Veronica drags Robin along to meet her dad, Archie gets to spend the day playing in the Batcave, and Jughead and Cyborg compete in a hamburger-eating contest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun. Fave moments: Archie running wild in the Batcave, with all the bats and penguins and rabbits; Mr. Lodge’s utter contempt for anyone his daughter brings home; and Batman calling the Joker to ask if he knows of any supervillains who have kids with orange hair.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #12

Yay, Christmas issue! Santa’s sleigh crashes into the heli-carrier, forcing the Super Hero Squad to dress up in Santa costumes and run around the city delivering presents. Possibly even better is the backup story, where the X-Men reveal that Rudolf is the most famous mutant of all, before they embark on an insane toboggan race.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of funny stuff here, cute dialogue, and a nicely seasonal dose of mayhem. The bit with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a mutant is really pretty epic.

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Pussycat Dolls

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2

It’s time for another meeting of the Tiny Titans’ Pet Club, and Josie and the Pussycats have been invited to bring her pets — but of course, the Pussycats aren’t cats, they’re a rock band! Soon, they’ve got the rest of the Riverdale kids thinking the Pet Club is a big costume party — all while an old Archie bad guy called the Mad Doctor Doom (Ring, ring! Marvel’s lawyers calling!) and his pompadoured sidekick Chester plot against our pint-sized heroes. Once everyone gets to the Titans’ treehouse, Moose shows up with his pet moose, Moose, followed by Archie dressed as Pureheart the Powerful, Jughead as Captain Hero, Betty as Super Betty, Veronica as Superonica, and Reggie as Evil Heart. All that, plus we finally get to meet Jughead’s dog Hot Dog, and we get detailed instructions on how to dance the Batusi.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I believe we’ve established by now that I love everything about this comic book, yes? Well, I loved the stuffing out of this one, too. Excellent humor and art, and just all-around fun.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #11

Tigra, She-Hulk, and the Wasp decide it’s time they finally started getting some credit for their superheroic deeds, so they set out to get themselves inducted into the Super Hero Squad. They soon find themselves up against a bunch of toad aliens who’ve kidnapped the entire Super Hero Squad. Wasp works to shut down the ship while Shulkie beats up the toad champion — but can the heroines rescue the Squad, keep the ship from crashing in the city, and get their big promotion? Meanwhile, in the followup story, the Squad members re-enact “The Magnificent Seven,” with Thor delivering all his lines in a combination of Wild West drawl and Asgardian thee’s and thou’s (“Huzzah! Pointeth me towards them varmints!”), the Falcon delighted that he’s going to get to be James Coburn, and the Silver Surfer doing a great impersonation of Robert Vaughn.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Both stories were a lot of fun. I loved Falcon’s genre awareness in the Western story, and almost everything Thor said was good for a laugh.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #8

Nova has traveled to Asgard with Thor, where they discover that Odin is an impostor! They team up with Valkyrie and travel to visit the Norns, a trio of fortune-telling witches, who reveal that Odin is held captive by the trolls. Will Nova be able to hold his own in the land of the gods? And what kind of trouble is brewing back home in New York?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nova is so completely and amusingly over his head in Asgard, completely awed by everything, and it’s fun to see him win the respect of Valkyrie. The day-in-the-life antics back in NYC are fun, too, and the cliffhanger is first-rate. Definitely looking forward to the next issue…

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Archie Titans?

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #1

I have been looking forward to this a heck of a lot more than is probably healthy — partly because anything that Art Baltazar and Franco do on “Tiny Titans” is awesome, and partly because Archie crossovers with superhero universes tend to be ridiculously fun.

We start this thing off by discovering that Riverdale and Sidekick City are actually pretty close together geographically — close enough that Archie Andrews’ mom and Alfred the butler both go to the same dry cleaners — and when their outfits get mixed up, Archie ends up wearing Robin’s costume, and Robin ends up with trademark sweater. Once that mix-up gets cleared up, the Titans spend most of the issue visiting the school in Riverdale. Jughead provides hamburgers to Cyborg, Kid Devil tries to play tic-tac-toe on Archie’s head, and Mr. Weatherbee catches up with Principal Slade. And there’s an absolutely brilliant sequence with Miss Grundy that actually made me laugh out loud.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I had high hopes for this one — they were met and exceeded. Go get it, people.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #7

Iron Man and the Black Widow investigate a report of a crashed UFO off the coast of Portugal when they get captured by an undersea base run by a woman calling herself the White Spider. She ws supposed to be the Black Widow’s replacement, but instead, she’s trying to take over the world. She keeps Iron Man unconscious while she tries to figure out how to access his armor, and she takes away Black Widow’s costume, which is full of a lot of useful gadgets. Can Natasha figure out how to stop the White Spider’s plans? Meanwhile, back at Avengers Mansion, the rest of the team accidentally uncovers some of the Black Widow’s secrets…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good fun, great dialogue, fun artwork. Nice to see a focus on the Black Widow in this one.

Green Lantern #58

Atrocitus and Sinestro try to find the rage entity as it looks for a new host, Carol Ferris accepts her new role as the queen of the Star Sapphires, and Adara, the hope entity, selects a kidnapped girl named Nicole Morrison as its new host.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but just barely. It’s a bit of a place-holder story, and the only really interesting thing happening here is the character of Nicole Morrison.

DC Comics Presents Jack Cross 100-Page Spectacular

Okay, a while back, Warren Ellis and Gary Erskine started this comic, about a hard-boiled, ruthless anti-terrorism specialist who liked to spend his off-hours organizing anti-war protests. They planned to make it an ongoing series, but it ran out of steam after the first four issues. So a couple of weeks ago, DC put out all four of those issues into this small collection, in which Jack tries to track down a conspiracy within the government that’s trying to obtain a new superweapon and use it on the American public.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The price tag on this one is eight bucks, but this may be the only way you’ll ever get to read this story — and it’s definitely more than worth the price. Jack makes a great hero, the action is pretty fantastic, and it’s great fun to read. If you can still find this one, try to get yourself a copy.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Chris Sims got to visit the offices of MAD magazine, and he brought back awesome pictures to prove it.
  • New posts from Allie Brosh are always a wonderful thing, but her latest features some of her best stuff.
  • Giga Pudding!

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Mr. and Mrs. Archie Andrews?

So the word on the street is that Archie is getting married.

Archie Andrews is about to make an offer someone can’t refuse. In what Archie Comics is billing as the “Archie Story of the Century,” Hollywood producer and comics writer Michael Uslan (“The Dark Knight,” “The Spirit”) is set to take Riverdale’s resident redhead into the future where he pops the question more than 65 years in making: “Will you marry me?”

Well, he’s not actually getting married, of course, because he’s a cartoon character and is not able to actually get married or sign contracts or purchase stocks and bonds. But even in the world of Archie Comics, he’s not really getting married.

This is a story that starts about five years in the future. And it takes place just as Archie and the Gang graduate from college. So what we do here is take a leap into the future and the device that I use here is similar to what happened back in “Archie Digest” #236. There was a story where Archie meets Archie. Archie walks down memory lane and meets Archie from 1941. This time, he goes up the street rather than down the street and winds up walking smack into his own future.

And it is just, to me, a really, really cool setup where we get to explore what impact, making a decision about who you are going to marry has.

In other words, it’s a publicity stunt, just like Spider-Man getting un-married, just like the new Batman, just like the death of Superman, just like, frankly, “Final Crisis.” It’s there to grab a few extra readers for a month or two, and then it’ll never be mentioned in-continuity again.

I don’t mind a few publicity stunts now and then. I just wish the comics industry was better at designing and publishing them.

Besides, everyone knows Archie would marry Betty. Right?

Everyone knows that.

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Opposites Attract

You may remember we discussed the concept of the comics crossover a while back. Well, the problem with a lot of them is that their primary purpose is marketing — stick a couple of popular characters together and hope people will buy some extra comics. The story may be alright, or it may not be. Not that many people care. What they care about is the fact that we’ve got Superman and Spider-Man together in this comic! Or Wonder Woman and Witchblade! Or Wolverine and Deathblow! We need to sell a lot of comics, think the company bigwigs, and we sure hope the suckers are willing to buy this one…

No, they’re not all that way. You find some where it’s clear that the folks involved said to themselves, “Wow, we can have a heck of a lot of fun with this. We can tell a cool stories about both of these wildly different characters, we can tell ’em so the fans won’t get mad, and even if it doesn’t sell that well, everyone who reads it is gonna LOVE it!”

Which leads me to what I believe is the greatest crossover in history.


Yes, it’s “Archie Meets the Punisher.”

Just the backstory on this one is great. The people at Archie Comics were sitting around joking about comics crossovers and picked out the Punisher, Marvel’s grim-and-gritty vigilante, as the worst possible crossover candidate for their all-American teenager. Batton Lash, the creator of the “Wolf and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre” series, heard the idea and wrote up a story proposal. The Archie folks sent it on to Marvel, still half-thinking of it as a joke — and the Marvel publishers decided they wanted to do it. Lash ended up writing the story, with art chores shared by Marvel’s John Buscema, who drew all the scenes with the Punisher, and Archie’s Stan Goldberg, who drew all the scenes with Archie.

The comic was published in 1994. The serious comics fans rolled their eyes and passed it over. The oddballs grabbed it, cackled over it, and loved it.

So how the heck do you bring two characters this different together into one comic book? Well, you start with Frank Castle pursuing a dangerous drug pusher named Red Fever — and he has to bring him in alive, because the government thinks they can get lots of info about the underworld from him. Unfortunately, Red gives the Punisher the slip, heads for the bus station, and buys a ticket. Gee, this guy looks strangely familiar…


Holy moley, you don’t think this is gonna lead to some uncomfortable mistaken-identity mix-ups later, do ya?


Hmmmm. Could be!

So the Punisher thinks Archie is Red, Archie’s friends think Red is Archie, a bunch of thugs from out-of-town are gunning for everyone, Jughead really, really likes hamburgers, and then there’s the big sock-hop over at the high school! Miss Grundy falls in love with Frank when she thinks he’s the school’s new coach, Frank marvels at how clean and crime-free Riverdale High is, and all the excitement has Arch starting his own version of the Punisher’s War Diary…


The story is almost unbelievably weird, but it’s still fun to read, and it’s still one heck of a good story. The characterizations and artwork are perfect — you don’t get stuck with either Archie or the Punisher acting out-of-character. It spotlights the great stuff that make both the Punisher and Archie work so well. Yes, the concept is bizarre, but it works because the creators loved the characters and because they were having mad, crazy, howling fun when they put it all together — and that comes through when you read the story.

If you can find it, check it out — but be prepared for a long hunt, and be ready to shell out some serious cash. This one’s reputation has grown steadily over the years, and it’s not at all easy to find any more. But it’s worth the time and worth the price.

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