by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
March 3, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Double Digest #57
Jughead's Double Digest #57
Priced at $2.95 - 178 pages. From Archie Comics by various artists and writers, available wherever comics are sold.
"You know, you two are way too obsessed with women..." said Jughead. "...Guys, there's more to life...FIND IT!!"
Archie's and Reggie's jaws drop and their eyes dilate with disbelief, but it is a sure bet that Jughead will not change the minds of the most popular teenagers in the world.
After all, they and every teenage boy since the beginning of time has chased girls. Archie Comics has built a publishing empire on that successful formula since the early 1940's.
They are so successful that it seems silly to describe their characters for those unfamiliar with Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead.
Everyone knows them.
Let's look, instead, at the secrets to their popularity. Archie is a generational phenomenon. Because his was the first successful teen-focused title, parents have bought these comics for their children for generation after generation simply from familiarity.
They also buy because, although not the best drawn or written comics in history, they are always consistently good, and consistently safe. Parents know moral controversy does not exist in the Archie universe.
Because of their longevity, quality and subject matter, Archie has always dominated the pre-teen market for teen-age comics. You see, Archie isn't read much by teenagers. He is read by kids who want to be teenagers.
Another editorial secret to Archie's fame is that Archie Comics only dabbles in current hip teen-talk, music, clothing and movies. Knowing that fads quickly become dated, they concentrate on aspects of the teen years that never change.
Like chasing girls. And chasing boys. And eating. And goofing off.
Ah, heck. The real secret to Archie Comics is that thy are just darn good, fun for everyone.
-- Michael Vance
By Dark Horse. A disjointed mishmash of borrowed ideas as Moby Dick meets Flash Gordon.
-- Michael Vance
As noted in a previous column, both Marvel and DC comics are reexamining and recycling their early stories.
DC's major efforts in this line involve the Justice League of America superhero group. "JLA" is the highly successful current version of this venerable group. The complex plots and outstanding art richly deserve the acclaim.
A spin-off is the miniseries JLA: Year One. The current League's early history has gaps because of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and "Zero Hour" series. Filling in gaps poses many challenges; Mark Waid and his colleagues have risen to the occasion.
In the 1960's, many readers wondered why the Doom Patrol and other DC groups never crossed paths with the JLA. In Waid's version, one encounter did take place; the JLA and the Doom Patrol did confront the Brotherhood of Evil. Relationships hitherto unknown have been revealed; e.g., Negative Man and Green Lantern were friends before they acquired powers.
I am dubious about some characterizations, but the young Aquaman is well done as is the Martian Manhunter. You will want all twelve issues, but a higher priority for your collection is JZA: the Nail.
I am anxiously awaiting the final issue of this "Elseworld" series, but the first two are as good as anything DC has published in years.
In this alternate reality, the Kents never found the infant Superman. All other DC heroes have emerged on schedule, but their careers and characters are warped by some unseen manipulator.
The Joker brutally murders Robin and Batgirl, and is killed before reporters by an enraged Batman. This harrowing episode is only one of the twists in Alan Davis's script.
Davis gets very high A's for the script and art. The inking and coloring are also exceptional.
As with Kurt Busiak's "Iron Age" story, the use of small details is important. Obscure heroes including Ultra the Multialien appear briefly, villains prominent in the first volume reappear briefly in volume two. Readers get to fill in gaps.
This is DC at its best.
-- Dr Jon Suter
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