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 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.
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.