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Author Topic: Some reviews.  (Read 28894 times)

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DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #90 on: March 01, 2018, 02:56:10 PM »
THE BEST OF ARCHIE COMICS STARRING BETTY AND VERONICA - BOOK TWO trade paperback collection

Contents listing: Year (by cover date) of publication, source Title & issue # of first appearance in print, Story title, and Number of pages.

AgB&V = Archie's Girls BETTY and VERONICA (1950-1987) or "Volume 1", and B&V(v2) = BETTY and VERONICA (1987-2015) or "Volume 2". The rest should be self-explanatory.

   1944      ARCHIE #6      [Nominate A Drum Majorette]      4   pages   
   1944      ARCHIE #9      ["And now, girls…"]      5   pages   
   1944      ARCHIE #10      ["Why look, new neighbors…"]      5   pages   
   1945      ARCHIE #14      [NOTICE]      6   pages   
   1946      ARCHIE #19      [Aviation Training]      6   pages   
   1946      ARCHIE #20      RAY!      7   pages   
   1950      AgB&V #1      What's Cookin' ?      6   pages   
   1951      AgB&V #4      Fish For Dinner      5   pages   
   1954      AgB&V #12      Ski Sick      4   pages   
   1955      AgB&V #20      Late Date      3   pages   
   1956      AgB&V #26      Click Chick      5   pages   
   1956      AgB&V #26      Sock 'n Roll      5   pages   
   1957      AgB&V #29      Popular Mechanics      6   pages   
   1959      AgB&V #44      Sheep Skinned      6   pages   
   1965      AgB&V #111      Dress Dilemma      6   pages   
   1965      AgB&V #112      Midas Mess      6   pages   
   1965      AgB&V #112      Prize Package      5   pages   
   1965      AgB&V #113      The Escort      6   pages   
   1965      AgB&V #122      TILT      6   pages   
   1969      AgB&V #142      New Girl in Town      6   pages   
   1970      AgB&V #177      Crabby Couple      6   pages   
   1972      AgB&V #193      From Stem to Stern      6   pages   
   1973      AgB&V #206      Success Story      5   pages   
   1974      AgB&V #220      Temptation      5   pages   
   1974      AgB&V #222      Breath Taking      6   pages   
   1976      AgB&V #234      The Advertising Game      5   pages   
   1979      AgB&V #287      Snap, Crackle and Pop      6   pages   
   1980      AgB&V #289      Voices of Change      6   pages   
   1981      AgB&V #303      Sculpture Schemer      5   pages   
   1984      AgB&V #333      Chiller      6   pages   
   1984      AgB&V #333      Is There an Archie in the House?      5   pages   
   1985      AgB&V #335      The Untouchable      5   pages   
   1986      BETTY'S DIARY #1      The Art Lesson      6   pages   
   1987      B&V(v2) #1      Right For the Part      5   pages   
   1990      B&V(v2) #26      Inner Voices      6   pages   
   1991      B&V(v2) #39      As Easy as 12-26-83      6   pages   
   1993      B&V(v2) #67      Paint the Marsh Mellow      5   pages   
   1994      BETTY #15      Super Sleuther      11   pages   
   1997      B&V(v2) #112      Archie's Choice      20   pages   
   1999      B&V(v2) #136      Better Fashionably Late Than Never      5   pages   
   2000      B&V(v2) #148      Hog Wild      6   pages   
   2003      B&V(v2) #185      Un-Bully-Vable      11   pages   
   2003      B&V(v2) #189      Rabid Rivals      6   pages   
   2005      B&V(v2) #211      Sooo Superficial      6   pages   
   2009      B&VDD #196      The Past Will Catch Up With You      13   pages   
   2014      B&V(v2) #269      [variant cover artwork by Jeff Shultz]      1   page   
   2014      B&V(v2) #269      Just Another Day!      20   pages   
   2014      B&V(v2) #270      The Minds of Betty & Veronica!      6   pages   
   2015      ARCHIE (v2) #2      [main cover artwork by Fiona Staples]      1   page   
   2015      ARCHIE (v2) #3      untitled story      22   pages   
   2016      B&V(v3) #2      [cover artwork by Adam Hughes]      1   page   
   2017      B&V(v3) #3      The Battle of Riverdale      20   pages   
   2017      RIVERDALE V1 TP      [cover photo]      1   page   
   2017      RIVERDALE #1      Bring It On      10   pages   
   2017      B&V VIXENS #1      [main cover artwork by Eva Cabrera]      1   page   
   2017      B&V VIXENS #1      untitled story      19   pages   

Most of the stories in this collection are those that I've previously read elsewhere... and no, it doesn't help that the last 75 pages of stories are all less than 3 years old. There was less than 20% of the total number of these stories that I hadn't read previously (or just couldn't remember for sure). Ironically most of those were stories from this century, as opposed to the last half of the 20th Century, including a couple from 2014 that I missed just before I started seriously reading Archie Comics, and was never able to find as back issues (B&V(v2) #269 & 270), and from BETTY AND VERONICA DOUBLE DIGEST #196, Dan Parent's second "Agents B&V" story, "The Past Will Catch Up With You" (the title of which refers to the then-surprise return of a couple of characters unseen [in 2009] since the old Bob Bolling LITTLE ARCHIE series). I believe that's the first time that story has been reprinted (the first Agents B&V story was reprinted in Book One of this trade paperback series). Most of the stories I hadn't read were also among the longer ones in this book.

Also in here is what I believe is the first story in what became an ongoing feature, Bob Bolling's "Betty Cooper, Super Sleuther" from the early run of BETTY. Some might not care for those stories, but to me they're always a hoot. They are just so ultimately Bob Bolling, and there's no mistaking when he writes a story like those. The only time you might confuse a Bolling-written story with someone else's is if it's a true 5 or 6 page short where he doesn't have the room to develop any complex plot. But even then, there's usually something that sticks out about the story as atypical. He always seems to yearn to write a longer story, and add some elements of adventure, mystery, or mysterious paranormal happenings. The BCSS stories were more like the old Nancy Drew books (a series of young reader mystery novels in hardback, if you don't know what those are) where Betty has a keen interest in criminology and deciphering clues as an amateur detective.

I wince whenever I see ACP reprinting the 1940s stories, because they're so painfully BAD. And that's making allowances for the average level of craft across the industry in the 1940s, which was admittedly less sophisticated as a whole. Comic books were still very much "feeling their way" in the 1940s. But ACP's Archie and friends stories from that period are just not notable as being very good on any level. ACP's superhero stories from the same time period compare more favorably (on average) with other publishers' superhero stories from Marvel (Timely Comics) or DC (National Comics) or many other publishers at the time. The Betty and Veronica stories reprinted here are just bad, and I'll tell you why. The artwork is below par for this type of feature, and even the writing shows too little imagination. Of the six stories from the 1940s reprinted here, three of them use the same gag device -- Betty and/or Veronica are frightened by a mouse. THREE out of five!! But worse than that and most damning of all, is that the two girls are in no way differentiated in the stories in terms of having contrasting personalities. Except for the fact that Veronica is brunette and rich, and Betty is blonde and middle-class, they could be the same girl. It's hard to understand how the Archie feature survived as a comic book in the 1940s, until I stop to recall that it was adapted into a radio comedy series in 1943 (which was popular enough to continue for a decade), and that Bob Montana launched an Archie newspaper strip in 1946. The radio show is probably responsible for keeping the first ARCHIE self-titled series alive at a time when it was nothing to brag about, and when Montana's newspaper strip came along a few years later, it finally gave the comic book writers and artists something to aim for in terms of improvement, because unlike the comic BOOKS, Montana's newspaper strip WAS good. And by about 1949 or 1950, the Archie comic books had raised their game, which is why they finally could spin off JUGHEAD, REGGIE, and BETTY AND VERONICA into their own comic books. So if they're going to insist on reprinting stories representing the 1940s, couldn't they at least pick them from the last couple of years in the decade, when they became tolerably readable?

Even in the 1950s stories, you can see a remarkable improvement from 1950 to 1958. And even the stories from 1950 reprinted here are a quantum leap in quality over those of the mid-1940s. As it happens, I think there are MAYBE 4 stories from the 1940s to the 1970s that I hadn't read before. But at least all the ones reprinted from the 1950s to the 1970s are GOOD stories, even if I've read most of them before. There was a slightly higher percentage from the 1980s and 1990s which I hadn't read, but not much. Unsurprisingly, since those stories DO get reprinted a lot more often -- but then they have more of them to reprint, since those stories on average have been better preserved, once it became apparent to the people at ACP that there was a lot of money to be made in reprint digests. The only way to account for the fact that FIVE out of the six stories reprinted here from the 1960s are from the single year 1965, and that three of those are from contiguous issues (#111-113) is that the preservation of those stories for reprinting purposes has been somewhat haphazard and random. But the book has 400 pages and sells for a cover price of ten bucks, so they can't be spending lots of money on scanning and touching up old stories... it's just not in the budget, so you get maybe ONE from each decade (1950s through 1980s) that hasn't been reprinted before.

The stories chosen from the 2000s, and from 2010 through 2014, especially, are all really fine stories (despite the poor sales of classic Archie comics in general), proving that they continued to put out some of the best stories ever right up to when they pulled the plug.

AND to make up for that, they reprint 75 pages of stories that are LESS than three years old in the 2010s section. Logistically, there's no justification for it. They don't reprint stories that recent in the ongoing digest titles (and by extension, the 1000 Page and Giant comics digests) do they? Of course not. The only reason they're reprinting the New Riverdale comics from 2015 through 2017 is in the hope that a few people picking up this trade collection still aren't aware that they exist, and they hope to sell a few more floppy comics and trade paperbacks. Those pages are ADVERTISING, pure and simple. Everyone else picking up a collection like this that has been following Archie Comics in anything more than the most casual of ways is already aware that those comics exist, and has already either read them, or made a conscious choice not to read them.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 02:01:12 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

 


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