What happened to Archie comics? Even as a preteen kid in the 90s I knew that the production of good Archie stories had ended more-or-less in the 80s, and stories done after that were to be skipped. I would flip through the books my parents or aunts bought me and look for the older (more competent) art styles which signaled the stories worth reading. I grew up knowing that the Riverdale gang wasn’t a bunch of monotone, bland caricatures of human beings, but rather a crew of smart-alecky pals in a constant war of one-upmanship.
Tried reading the comics where Archie married Betty and Veronica - nothing funny’s happening, so what’s the point? Archie isn’t supposed to be a soap opera. That said, there are much better soap operas.
Also picked up the first issue of Afterlife with Archie (the one where they become zombies). I’ve yet to read the rest, but the 1st issue didn’t get me interested at all. It’s just a johnny-come-lately addition to the glut of zombie crap infesting pop culture. And again, it’s not even funny, so what’s the point.
Read the old Pureheart the Powerful stories if you want to see how Archie should really do genres - as parodies. It’s a kid’s comic. It’s not supposed to pander to your nostalgia, it’s just supposed to be entertaining.
To illustrate my points, I pulled an Archie comic from a few years ago off my brother’s shelf. In the 1st story (often the only new one in today’s books. The rest is just reprints), it takes Archie 3 pages of cleaning a pool to finally fall in, to which his supervisor thinks “that’s the 2nd time today”. That’s literally the first joke. Everything before that is just Archie talking to himself about cleaning a pool, and the supervisor’s big contribution to the comedy is an expository thought bubble.
Contrast this to an older comic I pulled off the shelf which I opened to a random story, looked like a 60s piece. Betty is entering the Lodge mansion and
Mr Lodge says, “Veronica’s still pretty miserable”.
Betty: “Oh right she went to the dentist today didn’t she?”
Next panel: Veronica smiling widely.
Betty: “Mr Lodge that’s the happiest misery I’ve ever seen”.
Next panel: Mr Lodge explaining.
"Her face is frozen from the dentist’s medicine".
And there, the whole story’s set up in ONE PAGE. Betty and Veronica then go for a walk during which boys come on to Ronnie because of her encouraging smile, after which she beats them up in various ways while grinning happily. And the dialogue serves to move the story along, illustrate the characters, and keep up the comedy.
Reggie comes along, “Hi Betty. Hi gorgeous.”
Betty, upset while Reggie takes Veronica in his arms: “Thanks, loads.”
In 2 lines of dialogue, the first uttered when Reggie appears, you know exactly who Reggie is and what he’s about. This is what Archie comics are supposed to be like. People get sarcastic. People get pissed. People are jerks. The boys are pigs and the girls are bitches (at the end of the story it turned out the medicine had worn out long ago and Ronnie was just enjoying hitting the boys). They’re American teenagers for pete’s sake. Why is everybody just plastered with a Stepford wife grin in all the new comics?
Poor younger me, he actually believed that bad Archie was just a product of the 90s. If only he’d known, even suspected, the depths to which it would eventually sink.
I mean COME ON Archie Comics. Joani Jumpp stories were epic verse compared to the drivel you’re selling today. JOANI JUMPP.