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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 

Salon writer gushes over Archie's lurch to PC-ness

A writer for leftist Salon goes fawning over the new, politically correct Archie and the editors/publishers now working tirelessly to wreck it:
Like a lot of people, I used to get those little “Archie” digests at the supermarket when I was a lad. I remember enjoying them, but they didn’t have a big impact on me. Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the gang are clearly part of the collective unconscious, but they’ve never felt like essential reading. When I drifted away from comics for a while, books like “Maus” and “Watchmen” and “Daredevil: Born Again” stayed with me, but my Archies were the first to go. They felt disposable because the characters never changed. Nobody played it safer than Archie Comics.

Those days are a distant memory. Archie Comics is now known for taking wild chances and daring approaches that put Marvel and DC to shame. The debut of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and the announcement of the batshit crossover “Archie Meets Predator” highlight what’s been apparent for years now: The company formerly known for the squarest and most unchanging characters in comics has become one of the most adventurous and exciting publishers. From the zombie apocalypse to a forthcoming story by Lena Dunham, today’s Archie Comics are anything but disposable or predictable. Improbably, anything goes in Riverdale.
It doesn't occur to him the cast never "changed" because it was aimed primarily at children, and even grownups don't always want certain things to change about famous literary characters, because sometimes, it's just not for the better, and renders them completely unrecognizable. Since Archie's output clearly didn't make a difference with him, maybe he shouldn't have spent his money on their comics to start with.
A brand new series—“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”—is the latest evidence of Archie’s willingness to take a radical new direction with an old character. Sabrina has been popular for decades, perhaps even more than Archie Andrews himself, thanks to the successful Sabrina series that aired on ABC and the WB. But Sabrina’s adventures, like Archie’s, have usually been fairly innocent teenage fare. Not anymore. Sabrina and her world have taken a more serious and historical turn in the new series written by Archie’s Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack: they bring surprising gravitas and depth to the concept of a teenage witch, giving Sabrina a backstory full of tragedy while keeping the teen shenanigans. Hack’s art reminds me a little of Tula Lotay’s surreal, boundary-smashing work on “Supreme Blue Rose.” There’s a dreamy feel—or maybe I should say a nightmarish feel—that also fits the series’ specific historical setting, starting in 1951 with Sabrina’s birth. The best trick in this magic-filled book is that even in an older setting with darker horror, Sabrina is still Sabrina.
Yes, that's all we need, isn't it? Tragedy and horror, far more than joy. But to say Sabrina is still the lady she was from the Silver Age even after having this nasty trick forced upon her by these modern writers is dishonest at worst. The idea Sabrina was literally born in 1951 and not just 2 decades ago is pretty laughable, because if she were, she'd be close to 70 now, and that's obviously not the case.
That trick was perfected in the ongoing series that inspired this new spin on Sabrina: “Afterlife with Archie,” which makes Riverdale’s zombie contagion feel appropriately deadly while maintaining the essence of the characters. “Afterlife” is a genuinely moving comic and a helluva accomplishment, thanks in no small part to the moody, evocative art of Francesco Francavilla, whose visuals create a recognizable yet new Riverdale that’s about as safe as the prison from “The Walking Dead.” The critical and commercial success of “Afterlife” led to “Sabrina,” much as the title of “Afterlife” plays on “Life with Archie”—a series that followed two parallel versions of Archie: one who married Betty and one who married Veronica. Both universes culminated in the death of Archie earlier this year. Marriage, death, zombies, alternate universes: Archie has embraced the biggest possibilities of both real life and comic books.
The biggest, maybe, but also the most degrading, like LGBT issues. So Archie turns to horror-thriller style material, and all of a sudden, they're something he wants to read now? I fail to see the logic here.
I asked Archie co-CEO/publisher Jon Goldwater about the company’s innovations, and he said they have a “story first” philosophy, but “don’t want to feel limited or tied down by what’s come before or what anyone else is doing.” He says the current era began about six years ago when he told editors and creators that “everything was on the table. No idea was too crazy and nothing was too precious.” From that meeting came Kevin Keller, who Goldwater believes is “the most important new character at Archie since the original five of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and Reggie.” Keller, like older members of the gang, also appears in multiple versions and universes: he’s already been a superhero and senator.
Keller is important, but not an African-American character who debuted in the early 1970s? Sorry, I don't comprehend. It's obvious by now they don't have any story first standings if they're going to go out of their way to push LGBT issues on everybody, and market adult Archie's "demise" with multiple variant covers.
The company’s confidence is reflected in the recent announcement of “Archie Meets Predator,” which might be the weirdest team-up or mash-up by any publisher. But there is a precedent for this series (a collaboration with Dark Horse Comics) at Archie. As Chris Sims discussed in Comics Alliance, the company’s new creativity isn’t entirely unprecedented: there have been some crazy Archie stories over the years. The best is probably “Archie Meets the Punisher,” a combination of the most unlikely genres imaginable: teen soap opera and vigilante pulp. That’s like “Gilmore Girls” and “Dexter” having a crossover. There have also been “Archie Meets KISS” and “Archie Meets Glee,” so this is another area of the Archie-verse that’s open-ended to say the least.
Yes, that's just what we need too; they associate themselves with other horror-thriller products and a TV program that's pretty sleazy.
Archie Comics is taking chances with less-familiar characters too. Though not well-known, Archie also owns some superhero characters, which they’re rebooting with a new line called Dark Circle: they will include the Fox, the Black Hood and the Shield. The Shield is an especially noteworthy character for reasons old and new. Created in 1940, the Shield is an all-American hero in the vein of Captain America—but who preceded Captain America by a year. In fact, the creators of Captain America changed the original shape of Cap’s shield to avoid confusion with the Shield. For the new Shield series, a woman will be taking up the mantle of this underappreciated hero. Like the female Thor and books like “Rat Queens,” “Harley Quinn” and “She-Hulk,” the new Shield is an example of growing female presence in comic book characters and fandom.
I guess that was expected, and they'd follow Marvel and DC's recent example of changing the gender/race/sexual orientation of any character they please. Well good luck with that. With their sales returns, there's no guarantee this'll encourage anybody to try the latest.
Archie is learning something DC is figuring out with series like “Batman ’66,” a continuation of Adam West Batman: readers are cool with multiple, inconsistent, far-out versions of beloved characters. Also, when you free a character from the prison of continuity—the tangled web of what really happened and supposed counts in the main version of a character—you’re free to tell better stories with greater consequences. When you let stories stand on their own, you can marry Archie, or kill him, or make him fight Predator. Now that the elasticity of the Archie crew has been embraced, it’s hard to imagine any genre or team-up that’s not fair game. Sci-fi Archie? Archie vs. Archer? Who knows?
I'm not surprised the writer may be unaware they did publish sci-fi stories in the past, or that he's overlooking his own notes. It's not so new at all. But his citation of inconsistency is something to comment on. Readers may not mind if multiple versions of famous creations are experimented with, but that's provided it doesn't intrude on the flagship continuity proper, as is already long the case with Marvel and DC. They've also abandoned continuity, which he insultingly describes as a prison. I guess sci-fi novelists shouldn't be consistent either and arbitrarily abandon everything they set up, right?
Anything seems possible in Riverdale. Young me would have been shocked to read that sentence. Who would have guessed wholesome, simple, predictable Archie Andrews would end up the poster boy for the bizarre, complex, freewheeling possibilities of comics?
Yes, judging from the leftist politics of the modern staffers, anything's possible indeed - they've abandoned all reason for the sake of hostility to the very crowds who used to make them a success.

Some of the commentors seem to understand how pretentious the writer's article is, and one said:
Clearly the author, Mark Peters, has not read Archie in decades, or else he is well over 70 years of age.

Archie met the PUnisher 20 years ago.

Life With Archie in the 70s had Archie meeting aliens and encountering some truly marvelous life-and-death situations.

A favorite Life had the gang trapped in the 'Towering Inferno'

An amazing LITTLE Archie in the '70s had the young gang and Miss Grundy contending with a shark (which Jughead later ate).

A two-parter in the very early '70s had the Little Archie gang contending with an undersea kingdom and a sea monster.

A fabulous '60s Life story had the gang trapped in a house in the snowy mountains by an alien who feasted on metal.

Another truly brilliant story had Archie trapped in the tv set (over 20 years before Carol Ann in Poltergeist) and Jughead and Dilton had to rescue him.

And there are Little Archie adventures from the early '60s that don't compare to anything else.

So I'm not sure what stories this author was reading, but it wasn't Archie.

I would love to find the Archie story, Snow Day, or Snowy Day, when the gang and faculty were trapped at the school in a snowstorm.

But endless stories in Life With Archie and Archie at Riverdale High were far more enjoyable than numerous other comic books back then.

Reading stuff like Maus and Watchmen is known as 'growing up', tho I wouldn't part with my Archie books for anything, especially the digests.
I figured he was way off on some of the research. But it's my theory he ignored most of their history deliberately, so he could convey the picture as he wants to see it, and tell everybody reading his slop what to think/believe, which is probably worse. Another said:
Marvel Comics had a superhero character come out as gay in the 1990s. It was a terrible comic, but Archie is only, what, 20 years behind Marvel? And that's not somewhere you want to be.
The story alluded to occurred in Alpha Flight in 1992, when Scott Lobdell, heavy advocator for LGBT causes and far less so for women's causes, turned Northstar gay. Indeed, it was a very badly written, heavy-handed tale, but that didn't matter to the PC advocates of the times like the Boston Globe, one of the mainstream papers that gushed over it without interest in story merit. No, what mattered to them was shoving these leftist agendas of their forth at all costs, even if it meant Alpha Flight would lose audience and be cancelled 2 years later.

The Salon writer does not care about Archie products any more than he does about DC and Marvel's. He only cares about political correctness.

Labels: , , ,

"The idea Sabrina was literally born in 1951 and not just 2 decades ago is pretty laughable, because if she were, she'd be close to 70 now, and that's obviously not the case."

The comic has a period setting.

Do you read any of the comics you rail against, or do you simply vent?

Stifle yourself, Archie.

I wanted to thank you for this awesome article. I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and I have already bookmarked your page to check out new stuff you post in the future. term paper

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