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PTF Reviews The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.

Started by PTF, April 08, 2016, 12:20:11 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


 Mission: To read Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.
Speak of the good
  • Speak of the bad
  • Try not to ham up the summary

Archie Andrews is your typical ham-fisted, clumsy teen—that is until his cousin Andy comes for a visit. Turns out Andy is an agent of P.O.P (Protect Our Planet) and is on a mission to stop C.R.U.S.H. (Criminal Recruits United to Spread Havoc) who has aligned with old foe Mad Doctor Doom. With P.O.P. neutralized and Riverdale dazed, can Archie becomes THE MAN FROM R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. and save the day?

Two out of three isn't bad.

The Good.

The Writing. Tom DeFalco provides us with the script and he knocks it out of the park. Every character is distinguishable. Archie sounds like Archie and even though he's the hero he still has his traditional moments of going gaga for girls and being clumsy. Jughead is Jughead. And I swear, Chuck is actually interesting and is part of one of the funniest moments near the end of the story. I could pick out a word balloon and you can guess pretty accurately who it came from. The story flows and is packed with little tidbits. This is a fun story that balances comedy and tension really world. The heroes were behind most of the time and had to work to overcome the villain in typical fun Archie fashion. And you can tell, DeFalco loves the old school stories and it really brought Mad Doctor Doom to life. I'll be honest, I was never a fan of the spy stories, but I really enjoyed this story. It's funny, it has a great story, and an imaginative end. I can't do this justice, it's great writing from Tom DeFalco.

The art: It's Fernando Ruiz so, yeah, naturally this will be awesome. This story is just great to look at. Everything is well done: The characters, the settings, buildings. You can tell he was just having a blast with this story. And I love all the background events. And this story is packed with them! An alien hiding in a garbage bin and later trying to escape a few pages later to teenagers doing stupid stuff, everything you could want is there to make you go back and see what you missed. You see a good slew of Archie favorite characters...and Raj (tee-hee I kid, I kid). And it's nice to see more Ruiz favorite characters get panel time because it's usually Parent favored characters in most comics. You even get to see Raj's dad. The Walking Dazed walk like zombies, characters have their own body language (like Chester and his fixation with his hair and looks). This story really competes with Cyrano Jones, which I considered his best work. Note the past tense because we have a new number one.

Archie: Have you ever heard of the term, "For every wall there is a door"? If you haven't it means that if you wait, keep trying, and endure, you'll eventually breakthrough. That's Archie in the story. He's told he can't do this, he's not ready, he's not good enough, but he just won't quit. When his friends are in trouble he picks himself off the ground and goes back for more. He's outclassed by the villains who have the numbers, the plan, and everything else, but Archie wins through determination and a bit of luck. You still have the traditional going gaga over the girls and being a clutz, but when things get serious, it's believable for Archie to step up to fight back. Even most people who don't like Archie will find him likeable in this story. He's just a great hero. And the growth is great, Andy keeps telling he can't and near the end when Andy tells him to let the professionals handle it now, Archie's response: "Yeah! They've been doing a great job so far!" If you like Archie's Weird Mysteries or the older stories where Archie has to step up to foil a robbery or catch a thief this Archie is for you.

The Villains: A hero is only as good as his villains and the bad guys in this story are really good. Mad Doctor Doom is great. He has a great look, he poses an actual threat to the heroes, and he's intelligent. I love when Chester comments how C.R.U.S.H. can take over the world with the daze formula and the next panel is Mad Doctor Doom shifts his eyes.  He's the perfect mix of goofy looking and scary.

Sharry the Spy Girl. I've seen Ruiz draw her in a few stories and I never got why he liked her so much. Well, now I do. She's a fun character. Again, she's intelligent and poses a threat, but she's distinguished from Mad Doctor Doom in her playfulness (her trolling of Reggie must be seen, it's so hilarious), she's loyal to her fellow agents, and she does have enough grasp on morality when circumstances get out of hand that she'll help the good guys.

The rest of the villains are fun. Crammer and Cranston are the typical goons, but they aren't total idiots and Crammer has a fun accent. They're not on the level of Mad Doctor Doom or Sharry, but they are at least capable and even when they blunder it benefits the villains. Chester is a good sidekick to Mad Doctor Doom...but man he kinda got creepy with the captured Betty and Veronica. I'm talking Archie Comics TMNT and MM Null level of ick. But it does help him stand out.

The inker, lettering, and coloring. Rich Koslowski is one of Archie's better inkers and he really helps bring out Ruiz's art and help give it an extra spring. Jack Morelli really steps up his game with his work especially when he colors and boldens the story. I hate when word balloons have colors around them, but here they make sense like with the security system for P.O.P. and Archie's reaction and I like how words are enlarged and colored to show their importance like Mad Doctor Doom when his name is first mentioned and when he later goes over the name of his plan to take over the world. Tom Chu does a great job with the coloring, the colors are bright and fun, I like the tint of purple he gave the dazed characters. He made me not miss Barry Grossman and if you know me that's an accomplishment.

Extras: We get an old timey story in traditional newspaper strip with Andy Andrews is a fun little story. Words from Tom DeFalco and Fernado Ruiz and art and sketches where Ruiz and what his ideas where and what changed and why.

The Bad.

A little explanation on Lil' Archie and Mad Doctor Doom's history would have helped: If you're a new reader to Archie Comics or not familiar or a fan of Lil' Archie you'll probably wonder what's up with Mad Doctor Doom not liking Archie and deeming him a threat to ruin his plan over everything else. I think a panel or two explaining and showing what has happened in the past would have benefited the readers.

Crammer's accent comes and goes: Vat is up vith that? Okay, it was just two times...I gotta fill the section out somehow!!

Something bad about the art. Okay to be fair I should find something Ruiz did wrong... I don't like how he made me feel about Beazley.

What I learned.

If you twirl round 'n' round like Wonder Woman you can disguise yourself as anyone
  • A teenager and his friends >>>> all our government's agencies including their secret ones
  • Tough Teddy transferred to Riverdale High.
  • All bookstores are the cover for hidden secret organizations.
  • Never hire and fund an evil scientist for any project that involves easy means to take over the world
  • Spies get all the cool toys
  • Chicken soup cures everything
  • Bad girl spies are hot
  • So that's who the Riverdale Bulldog Mascot is!
  • Honorary Agents of P.O.P. are color coded like any teenage group of heroes.

This is probably the best Archie story I've read. I can't think of anything that can go against it. Everything just clicks from the writing to the art to the coloring to the lettering to the inking. It's all great. I can't really think of any Archie story that comes close to this one. And that's not counting the great extras. This an A+ and you should buy this story.  You won't regret it.


DeCarlo Rules

DeCarlo Rules

Quote from: PTF on April 08, 2016, 12:20:11 PM
Sharry the Spy Girl. I've seen Ruiz draw her in a few stories and I never got why he liked her so much.

You pretty much can't go wrong with a Tom DeFalco Archie story. I don't think I've ever read one that was as much as 'just average'. He's definitely in the top tier of Archie writers, despite not having that long a list of credits.

Sharry the Spy Girl appeared in other stories? This is news to me! Where, pray tell?


Just in a panel like I think she was in LWA during the trial (we were all challenged to name each character) and I remember someone mentioning she made an appearance in a Betty and Veronica.

Fernando Ruiz

Thanks for the nice write-up and all the kind words, PTF.

The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. remains one of my all-time favorite projects that I've ever worked on and one of the works of which I am the proudest. I had a blast working on that one. This would be the very first time I ever worked with the legendary Tom DeFalco. What a delightful man! I'd been a fan of Tom's work when I was a kid reading a lot of his Marvel work like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Thor. It was a thrill to be working from one of his scripts and the experience turned out to be even better than I hoped.

Tom writes a perfect "artist's script." By that, I mean he provides just enough information in his panel descriptions that I can tell what is going on, but he still leaves me plenty of room to play and have fun. Thus I was able to go crazy with the background gags and cameos. Tom loved it! He was such a gentleman that when he saw my pages, he called me at home and left a long, very complimentary message on my answering machine. (Believe me! I listened to it over and over!) It was a very kind gesture to make and it added to the thrill of working with him. One of my favorite childhood writers called me to tell me how much he loved what I did. It was very nice of him to do that.

The collected trade is really the best way to enjoy this story. It is packed with extras including my sketches for the characters and the covers. It really is a very nice slick well-designed package.

A few behind-the-scenes notes...

1. The covers were done well in advance of the script. When I drew the initial cover sketches all I had to go by were very, very brief one to two sentence descriptions of each issue. I took the initiative and designed action-packed covers which is why Part 2 features a cover scene that doesn't appear anywhere in the story. Those ninjas I just pulled out of nowhere!

2. Since I didn't have a lot of story to go by, I designed the agents of R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. uniforms that Archie is sporting on every cover without really knowing if they were going to be used or not. As it turned out, I was only able to get them in at the very end of the fourth and last part.

3. Page 5 Panel 7 of Part 1 features a cameo by the Nomad probe from Star Trek.

4. I designed the P.O.P. logo and based it on the Man From U.N.C.L.E. logo.

5. Panel 3 Page 9 of Part 1 includes cameos of Nick Fury and John Steed.

6. Norman's Taxidermy in Panel 1 Page 12 is a nod to the creepy hobby of serial killer Norman Bates from Psycho.

7. The last panel on Page 17 Part 1 is obviously a tribute to the famous "Spider-Man no more!" panel from Spider-Man. I'm pretty sure this was Tom's idea!

8. Panel 3 Page 3 in Part 2 has cameos from a number of G.I. Joes plus James Bond with his famous jetpack from Thunderball.

9. The girl in the foreground of Panel 1 Page 6 is Sian Mandrake, a student of mine at the time and the daughter of comic book artists Tom Mandrake and Jan Duursema. Sian is now an artist herself and a fellow teacher at the Kubert School.

10. Throughout the series, I was able to sprinkle in cameos of characters I created like Wendy Weatherbee, Raj Patel, and Tono!

11. The trade makes the very first time the Andy Andrews story was ever published anywhere.

Sadly, Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. was a moderate seller but not enough to urge Archie to revisit the idea. The trade itself was supposedly a steady seller but it's no longer in print. I used to do very well with the trades at conventions.

Fernando Ruiz

Quote from: DeCarlo Rules on April 21, 2016, 07:08:15 AM

Sharry the Spy Girl appeared in other stories? This is news to me! Where, pray tell?

I know she was in a few of my crowd scenes in Life With Archie.

Sadly, you'll probably never see Sharry again!

DeCarlo Rules

Quote from: Fernando Ruiz on April 21, 2016, 12:29:21 PM
Quote from: DeCarlo Rules on April 21, 2016, 07:08:15 AM

Sharry the Spy Girl appeared in other stories? This is news to me! Where, pray tell?

I know she was in a few of my crowd scenes in Life With Archie.

Sadly, you'll probably never see Sharry again!

Awww...   :'(

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