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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Archie’s Double Digest #s 179 & 180/$3.69 and 161 pgs. each from Archie Comics Publications

Archie Comics is often criticized for being out-of-touch with reality. This criticism usually comes from readers who are obsessed with the ‘reality’ of super-heroes.


It is true that in Archie’s world, there is no war or violence, drug or sex abuse, pornography or perversion. You would like to live there. It is also true that Archie’s world is full of jokes like this: Jughead: “What do you think causes global warming?” Archie: “Reggie’s hot air!”


It is equally true that the stories and single-page jokes and games are drawn in a style most associated with the limited animation on television called cartoons, also off-putting for fans of overly-muscled, spandex-clad super folk. So, what’s not to love?

Most stories are built around the conflicts of human relationships, particularly of young boys and young girls learning to understand one another in a teenage world of fads and peer pressure and adult expectations. They are set at high school, restaurants, movie theaters, the beach, and the usual places where teenagers with little or no money gather.

For variety, these two digests also feature the gang in the distant future, and Archie as Tarzan. And most of the stories are just fun.

Archie’s Double Digest is highly recommended for pre- and young teenagers, and for folks who need a brief vacation from our sick and broken world.

Various writers and artists. Sold in lots of places, unlike most comic books published today.

MINIVIEW: Freshmen II #s 2 & 3 [Top Cow]. An explosion on a college campus creates new superheroes, but you won’t care. Nice art can’t overcome a story so convoluted with multiple plots and scene changes that suspension of disbelief is destroyed. Freshman II is just too much work to enjoy.

Reviews by Michael Vance

Check out Dreams and Visions #35 for a new Vance short story:

The Price of Victory, published by DK Publishing, 48 pages, $3.99

DK Publishing has developed a series of books utilizing sequential storytelling as a reading aid for children. Aimed at four different levels of readers, from beginning to proficient, these “Graphic Readers” provide engaging stories and impressive art. I recently read the Graphic Reader entitled The Price of Victory, and now I can’t wait until my children are level four readers.

Kinesias is a Greek athlete who is preparing to compete in the Olympic Games in Athens, unless a rival runner is successful in keeping him out of the games. Told from the perspective of Kinesias’ younger brother, Pylades, the story takes young readers into an exciting tale of adventure and intrigue. It would also appear to open opportunities for parents to strike up conversations with their children about fair play, honesty and doing your best in all of your endeavors.

It’s refreshing to see that, despite being created for young readers, the work includes interesting characterization. Pylades serves as a young Greek “Hardy Boy” of sorts, as he aids his brother in finding out who is trying to keep him out of the games. It’s easy to see how readers, boys or girls, could get caught up with this character. Kudos to writer Stewart Ross.

Also indicative of this book is attractive artwork by Inklink. Who is Inklink, you ask? I couldn’t begin to tell you. But, whoever he, she or it is, readers are treated to an expressive style with clean lines and an entertaining (and only occasionally confusing) use of panel arrangement. Not as cartoony as some might expect for this type of work, Inklink actually gives the characters quite a bit of personality.

A map, timeline and illustrated glossary makes this book educational, as well as entertaining. What more could a parent ask?

The Price of Victory is recommended for older child readers. Parents should seek it out at comics shops, online retailers and auctions or at .

Mark Allen

Inklink is an illustration and communication studio based in Italy and founded on the expertise of Simone Boni and Alessandro Rabatti, who coordinate a large group of collaborators. Creating historical comics is one of their many specialties. Cartoons, they say are a way of expressing themselves "quickly and freely, without inhibitions or constraints."

Thanks to Mari Winn of the Joplin Independent for doing the research on them.